So. Peace Corps is a federal agency of the United States' government. PeaceCare is a cleverly, if somewhat confusingly, named non-governmental organization (NGO) that works with American universities, current Peace Corps Volunteers, and local communities to set up collaborative, sustainable development projects. The project that they're working on in Senegal is focused on cervical cancer prevention through screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions. The focus of the project was chosen by Senegalese health care workers and community members; many people here have a friend or family member who died of cervical cancer because it wasn't detected until very, very late. Cervical cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality around the world, particularly in places where Pap smears and the HPV vaccine (which is a good vaccine and boys and girls lucky enough to be living in places with advanced health care systems should all get) are not available, and I think it's a really good project.
|Map of Deaths from Cervical Cancer|
Last year a team of American doctors came to Kédougou and trained a team of Senegalese health care workers to perform the Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) procedure to screen for pre-cancerous lesions and to train others to perform VIA as well. Peace Corps Volunteers did a lot of the prep work, ran focus groups, planned logistics, and facilitated the trainings. The next steps will be to screen enough women to get accurate information about the prevalence of cervical cancer in Kédougou and to train local health care providers in cryotherapy to treat pre-cancerous lesions before they develop into cervical cancer.
Now, another team of Americans is here to lead refresher courses, observe screening days, start discussing cryotherapy, and learn about health care systems in developing countries. Here are a few photos of the refresher course lead by Senegalese trainers at the Kédougou Regional Hospital: