Author: Cari Benbasset-Miller, MD; UIC Family Medicine third year resident physician.
The Peace Care Senegal fall 2013 trip has begun! I’m back for my second trip to Senegal as part of the UIC GCHT. Our team is led by Andrew Dykens, the Director of the UIC Global Community Health program and the founder of Peace Care. Our program is involved in a longitudinal approach to cervical cancer preventive services implementation in Southeastern Senegal. This year, we also have Michael Charles, a UIC medical student who’s been putting up with our terrible attempts at French and Paul Rotert, a 2nd year resident also from UIC Family Medicine. The program’s expansion to a two year program has allowed me to return as a seasoned Senegal vet- or it would have if I’d remembered everything I had planned on packing this year! Paul will also come back next year – we’ve learned from our partnership with the Peace Corps volunteers that overlapping personnel provides continuity for the program and allows us to learn from our experiences and adjust to the new challenges that each trip brings.
It was both familiar and yet still thrilling to fly into Dakar this morning. I’m excited to reunite with the Peace Corps Volunteers and regional health staff in Saraya and Kedogou. The UIC / Peace Care work has continued briskly since our last trip here: Dr. Kabou has completed his training in cryotherapy, and last week, the midwives in the Kedogou district had a refresher course in cervical cancer screening in preparation for mass screenings at multiple health posts this week and next. For screening, we are using a technique called visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid (VIA). Our task now is to begin a prevalence study of cervical dysplasia and frank cancers to establish the scope of the problem in Southeastern Senegal and continue to engage the community in raising awareness of screening. It will be big, complicated, and fascinating to see the screenings in action…and I can’t wait.