Cervical Cancer Screening and Training Program Launches in Haiti

Coinciding with Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, Direct Relief is excited to announce the launch of a cervical cancer screening and training program in Haiti.

Although cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, it is the second most common cancer found among women worldwide. Almost 300,000 women die each year from cervical cancer and 80 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries.

Over the past several decades the cervical cancer burden has decreased dramatically in developed countries with the widespread adoption of cervical cancer screening programs. In developing countries, however, it is estimated that only five percent of women  have been screened for cervical cancer—a stark contrast to the 40-50 percent of women in developed countries who have been screened.

In Haiti, the incidence of cervical cancer ranks among the highest in the world. In an effort to reduce the incidence of this disease in Haitian women, Direct Relief—in partnership with Basic Health International (BHI)—will be launching a cervical cancer screening and training program at one of our long-time Haitian partners, Fondation St. Luc, a division of St. Damien Hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Direct Relief will work with BHI to increase the capacity of medical professionals at St. Luc to prevent the disease using low-cost screening and treatment techniques. The Direct Relief sponsored program will support delegations of skilled BHI physicians who will train local doctors at St. Luc to identify pre-cancerous cells, using Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA), and to treat pre-cancerous cells with a freezing technique called cryotherapy.

This program will train 30-40 local physicians, through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience, to screen and treat women for cervical cancer. BHI will use its proven method developed in El Salvador to train community health workers to work directly with the community to increase awareness of cervical cancer and to inform women that free screenings and treatment will be available.

It is anticipated that 300-500 women will receive services during each of the training delegations. Once the training sessions are completed, the equipment used by the medical delegations will be donated to the local physicians, enabling them to incorporate VIA screening into their overall standard of care.

Much needed cryoguns—which ablate pre-cancerous cervical lesions—and related medical equipment to support this program were generously donated by Wallach Surgical Devices.

  1. i hope you will consider doing a similar program in the north of Haiti: perhaps Justinian in Cap Haitian.

  2. Would it not be wise to include nurses in the training as women are more likely to access their services? Nurses are trained to perform cx screening in many parts of Canada and evidence from Laboratory results demonstrates that test results from samples obtained by nurses are more reliable than those performed by MDs. There are far more nurses and midwives in the country than there are MDs.
    What about prevention via HPV vaccination?

  3. Thanks for your questions, Wanda.

    Our Haiti country manager, Andrew, says we are training nurses in the program also. We cannot issue HPV vaccine because it hasn’t been introduced to the country by the Ministry of Health or on national protocol, so we wouldn’t be the ones to introduce it.

    Hope this helps answer some of your questions.

    -Direct Relief (HR)

  4. We have been operating a free health center in Cite Soleil for almost 7 years. We have about a dozen staff, all Haitian, including doctors and nurses. Is there an opportunity for us to participate in this training?

  5. Jim, we will forward your contact information to our Haiti program manager. Thanks for inquiring.