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January 30, 2018

Expanding Impact: Equatorial Guinea Cervical Cancer Screening Program Begins Second Phase



MCDI Field Office Technical Director Dr. Manuel Ondo Oyona with the Provincial Delegate for Health, Dr. Juan Pedro Milama and Hospital Director, Dr. Lucrecia Bilopo Ndong identifying a space for the Evinayong Hospital CCST Consultation Room.

The small hospital in Evinayong, a town in the Centro Sur Province of mainland Equatorial Guinea, serves a population of about 52,000; however, it is staffed by just 15 doctors, only one of them a gynecologist. Currently, the women in this region are not screened for cervical cancer or pre-cancerous lesions and neither pap smears nor acetic acid visualization (VIA) are available in public health facilities. Since 2016, MCDI has worked with the Ministry of Health of Equatorial Guinea to establish a system for screening women using VIA and treating pre-cancerous lesions with cold coagulation. With the second phase of the project beginning in late 2017, more women like the women served by the Evinayong hospital will have access to essential preventative care.

Cervical cancer is the second most deadly form of cancer for women in Equatorial Guinea, and is highly prevalent throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. A lack of widespread gynecological screening is primarily to blame for the high incidence rate - women in areas where more regular screening is encouraged and available are much more likely to be screened and treated before pre-cancerous cells develop into cancer.

Since the beginning of the Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment project, funded by Noble Energy and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, MCDI has screened over 5,600 women for cervical lesions using visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), and used cold coagulation therapy to treat women who were discovered to have pre-cancerous lesions. The first year of project implementation saw the opening of two screening rooms in the Malabo and Bata public hospitals, as well as mobile campaigns that screened women in outlying areas both on Bioko Island and on the mainland.

In its newest phase, the project seeks to establish screening centers at the provincial hospitals of Luba, Ebebiyin, Envinayong and Mongomo. By expanding screening and treatment to these hospitals, the project will extend its impact to some of the most remote and underserved areas of the country. Improvements to the currently established centers in Malabo and Bata will allow for doctors to treat early stage cervical cancer through the use of colposcopy and the Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), treatments not currently available at these hospitals.

Dr. Lucrecia Bilop Ndong, the director of Evinayong Hospital, toured the site with project directors in early December. A room for screening and treatment has been chosen, and the site will be set up to begin screening patients in May of 2018. The second phase of this project will see more women screened, more women learning about the importance of screening, and improvements to the treatment process for women living with cervical cancer. With more programs to help screen and treat women around the world who lack access to preventative options, MCDI is contributing to a future where cervical cancer will be a significantly less burdensome disease.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and February 4th is World Cancer Day.



Youth Leaders in the captial of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo, after their training on cervical cancer prevention.




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