Half a million women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year—and 50% of these cases are fatal. Most cases of cervical cancer now occur in low resource settings, where cervical cancer is often detected at a late stage, when treatment is no longer possible. Women in Mozambique experience this reality at an acute level: 3,400 Mozambican women die every year, leaving behind their families and careers in the prime of their lives.
But when it comes to cervical cancer, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Since 2019, the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center, funded by USAID through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine PEER program, has been working with international NGOs like PSI, the Mozambican Ministry of Health and local organizations to improve cervical cancer screening and to strengthen care for women through education and hands-on capacity building programs.
As part of this project, PSI works with Mozambicans to decrease the incidence of cervical cancer by leading demand creation at the community level and education on the disease. PSI is also introducing new, consumer-led cervical cancer screening technologies into voluntary contraceptive counseling sessions. Traditionally, women are screened by the provider using a cervical swab to inspect for potentially cancerous lesions. As part of this program, PSI will soon introduce HPV self-samples, which give women the freedom to self-administer a test at the health facility or in the privacy of their own homes. Not only does the self-screen give more privacy and control to women who need it, but it has also been shown to be two times more accurate than traditional methods of cervical cancer screening. If a woman tests positively for HPV, PSI-trained providers will then confirm the diagnosis using the Mobile ODT device and provide treatment using thermal ablation or “cold coagulation.”
With these new technologies for screening, diagnosis and treatment, more lives can be saved from cervical cancer than ever before. To learn just how we’re doing this, check out the video below from the MD Anderson Cancer Center.