Adeline Beris and Yolette Jean work as health promoters for a clinic in Haiti that screens women for cervical cancer, a crucial step in reducing the number of women who die from the disease.
This screening and training program was set up through Direct Relief’s partnership with Basic Health International (BHI) and Fondation St. Luc in an effort to equip local providers with an effective and low-cost method of screening for cervical cancer.
Haiti has the highest incidence of cervical cancer in the Western Hemisphere, and most Haitian women have never been screened, according to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
Adeline and Yolette were trained at the St. Luc clinic in Manitane by Dr. Yvette Sejuste and BHI to educate people in the community on the causes of cervical cancer and the importance of screening. Their role is crucial as they are the first step in getting women to the clinic and also help build trust between the local community and the clinic staff.
The pair explained that the most important information they learned during their training was the various causes of cervical cancer, information they are now able to pass along to patients. “Before the training, we believed it was something racial. We did not know that smoking and having a lot of children and/or partners can cause cancer.”
As a mother, Yolette said she encourages women to take care of themselves so they can take better care of their children. Adeline and Yolette both agreed that women’s health is extremely important because women are the “motors of society” and “without them nothing can move.”
Both Adeline and Yolette said the best part of their job is meeting new patients who come from all over the region to get screened. They said that at first the community was not quite aware of what was going on, but now not only do they visit the clinic, they also send referrals from the surrounding communities and even from the rural areas.
The success of the program reflects the true sense of community these women, many of whom are mothers, feel as they help spread word of the screening and treatment to the most rural areas in the region. This kind of action can help improve women’s health in the region and develop a stronger network of support for women in the area affected by the disease.
Direct Relief is thankful for the work that Adeline and Yolette do as they provide an invaluable resource to women in the region who, because of their efforts, now know how and where to access needed screening services.