Objectives Zambia has a high burden of cervical cancer, ranking 4th in sub-Saharan Africa, with an incidence of 41.4% and a mortality of 24.9%. However, access to cervical cancer screening remains a challenge. In 2012, a multidisciplinary team funded by the European Union was set up within a predominantly rural peri-urban community to conduct screening for cervical cancer for women who would otherwise not be able to access the service.
Methods Training of personnel to conduct the screening was done. Eight fully-equipped screening clinics were opened. The method of screening used Visual Inspection with Acetic acid. Any woman found with pre-cancerous cells was treated using the ‘see-and-treat’ approach using cryotherapy. Some women were screened through outreach/camps in the very rural community.
Results Four medical doctors, 16 nurses, seven para-medicals, and nine community workers were trained to use visual inspection with acetic acid and treatment of pre-cancerous cells. Eight-fully equipped screening clinics were opened. . The sensitization campaign reached over 10,000 people. Over 3500 women were screened for cervical cancer. Of these, 4% were treated for pre-cancer, and an additional 4% with suspicion of invasive disease were referred to the district hospital for biopsy.
Conclusions Programs that involve the community members and local social or religious structures are effective tools for sensitizing women on the need for cervical cancer screening. Provision of method of screening that avoids repeat visits to the health facility work well in hard to reach rural areas.
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