September has been a busy month for MamaBaby Haiti, as we started a cervical cancer screening clinic in conjunction with a local hospital, St. Francois de Sales. From painting the room to installing curtains to decorating with as many butterflies as we could find, our clinic is finally finished and began welcoming patients in early September for their free cervical cancer screening and STI testing. Our stellar nurse and community educator, Miss Nadege, goes out into multiple communities in Northern Haiti to motivate women to join us in the fight against cervical cancer by taking advantage of our services so we can catch lesions before they become cancerous. Although she assures them that we offer the educational seminar every Friday, at which time we can create their medical record card, test them for HIV/syphilis, offer contraception options and prepare them for their screening on the following Wednesday, we find that women are so excited and eager, that they arrive at MamaBaby Haiti the same week. This enthusiasm from the Haitian women is truly contagious and makes the Friday class not only educational, but really fun, too. The women are full of questions about cervical cancer, what it means to find a lesion, and full of laughs when demonstrate proper condom use on a silicone penis model. They are hungry for knowledge about their health and we are happy to share it, because when you teach one woman, she is very likely to share her knowledge with her family and friends. This is the beautiful thing about empowering women.
So what does this program look like on the ground?
Women come to MamaBaby Haiti on Fridays at 8am, where they receive an educational seminar on sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer, and family planning. This class openly discusses valuable topics that all Haitian women should know, and creates an open forum for what are often taboo subjects. Following the class, women get tested for HIV and syphilis, and can choose to receive longterm contraception, including DepoProvera injections (3 months of protection) and Jadelle contraceptive implants (5 years of protection). After completing the education, women schedule an appointment to meet us at St. Francois on Wednesday, where they receive testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and candida. Here they are also screened for cervical cancer using a method called Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA). In order to meet criteria for VIA, patients must be between 30 and 60 years old. Following their exam, we sit with each women to explain their results, answer questions, and give free treatment.
Sherry Firouzbakht, WWINH Program Manager at MamaBaby Haiti
Here's Miss Nadege teaching Northern Haitian women about women's health issues.
We have been working hard in the clinic every Wednesday to see as many patients as possible. So far, 117 women have been screened by 7 providers. Everyone is given treatment for their STIs and if necessary, sent home with partner treatment as well. So far, we have had 100% success rate in treating partners who have needed to return for injectable medication. For women with precancerous lesions, we will see them back in a few short months to confirm their lesions and treat with cryotherapy. We hope that we can keep up with the high demand, as more and more women are coming each week.
Miss Nadege reviewing a medical record to prepare medication for a patient
A couple of our exam rooms