Mathiwos Wondu YeEthiopia Cancer Society has been working on paediatric cancer patients since its establishment. At the beginning of 2015 MWECS partnered up with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon and BMSF to support the growing burden of women’s cancer here in Ethiopia. The programme is to highlight the need for women to be screened for cervical cancer. Those patients who are screened at a late stage and diagnosed with Cancer are referred to the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa where they will also receive support by the MWECS psychosocial centre.
The flow of patients coming from the outer regions has been low throughout the year. MWECS designed a ‘social mobilisation orientation workshop on cervical screening’ to boost the awareness of the disease and to encourage women to be screened at their local hospitals and health centres.
I was fortunate enough to attend 2 of the 5 sessions held in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia. Firstly in Adama which is 100km out of the city and secondly Arsi about 150km out of Addis. In Adama city there is a government hospital providing health services to the general population with low cost. Until recently cervical cancer screening services were not provided in the hospital, there has been a great effort to start the service and a crynotherapy machine was recently installed. MWECS role was to create a public awareness on the newly availed service in the hospital so that patients could access it. The orientation workshop in which i attended invited 75 participants, these were selected representatives from different communities; women associations, high school girls, religious leaders, Health Extension workers, and community leaders.
The session used different methods to effectively deliver its message. T-shirts and literature were distributed promoting the message of screening and awareness of Cervical Cancer. Medical representatives and MWECS staff presented a panel discussion in providing information and to open up the floor for discussion on what responsibility the participants were taking on to highlight the need for the service in their areas. Attendants were also able to share their experiences. One touching story had come from an urban health extension worker;
She talked about a patient who had gone to her a year ago, she had suspected it was cervical cancer and referred the patient to a higher facility, it was confirmed to be cervical cancer. The patient returned to the health extension worker with her diagnosis, who was advised to stay strong and continue her follow ups. But the patient was not financially strong and couldn’t continue with the follow ups and so sadly passed away. Now that she is aware that the hospital can provide screening and treatment with low costs and if tertiary centre referral is needed MWECS is able to support with transport, medical fees, and accommodation. She will no longer have to watch a patient suffer in hopelessness.
This story just shows what a great difference the psychosocial centre can provide for the people of Ethiopia. Since the Orientation events have taken place we have seen more women coming to Addis Ababa to receive the service in the city. The word is getting out that there is a cure and that Cancer is not a death sentence.
(It also makes you appreciate our NHS health service.)
Melkam Ken (have a good day)