Monday February 24, 2020

New Smartphone App Screens Women for Cervical Cancer in Tanzania

Every year more than 4,000 women die from cervical cancer in Tanzania

Oncology department of a hospital in Kenya, VOA

November 13, 2016: According to United States Centers for Illness Control, in developing countries, a woman dies every two minutes from cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of deaths from cancer among women. This is a tragedy as cervical cancer is preventable as well as treatable.

This situation usually occurs where routine gynecological tests are not commonly available. Every year more than 4,000 women die from cervical cancer in Tanzania, despite the disease being preventable. The Precancerous lesions can be detected in time and removed.

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A new smartphone application known as cervical is created in Tanzania to help the women of Tanzania fight against cervical cancer.

Dr. James Edward said, “When I take the image, I can zoom it and see it in good view instead of going there to the cervix  but when you take the image you can zoom in and see if there is a lesion.”


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For the women living in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, the burden of cervical cancer is all too familiar. A patient Frida Mtale said, “One day my aunt started to see a little liquid like she was menstruating. She went to the doctor. She was told it was cancer. “

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Karen Yeats leads the Kilimanjaro Cervical Cancer Screening Project in Tanzania. The team uses Smartphone to screen women for cervical cancer. Non-physician health workers use their phones to take a photo of the cervix which is then sent to an expert in the country. If cancerous areas are present, the expert transmits back the treatment instructions within minutes. The quick diagnosis is a boon to women in Tanzania.

The project is a government sponsored program, funded as Canada’s Grand Challenges. The project supports bold ideas in Science, business, and technology.

Health workers who aren’t able to make a diagnosis on their own use the app to send the photos to an expert in the country who receives a notification and in just a few minutes the expert helps the worker on the scene make a diagnosis. They have already trained over 100 health providers and screened thousands of women. Dr. Karen Yeats said, “We predict that by the end of the year we will probably be up around 7 to 8 thousand.” Because the Technology is mobile, she says her team will be able to reach even the remote parts of the country.

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The team has already received numerous requests to export the technology to other African countries.

Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53

Next Story

HPV Vaccinations may Reduce Cervical Cancer Rate in Kenya

Kenya's HPV Vaccinations Raise Hope of Less Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer
A study of hospital records shows three-quarters of young women chose not to get the HPV vaccine which can prevent cervical cancer. VOA

By Rael Ombuor

The World Health Organization says East Africa has the highest rate of cervical cancer in the world.  In October, Kenya launched a mass vaccination of girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer.  The vaccine is being welcomed by HPV patients, who hope their children will be protected better than they were.

Thirty-year-old Jacinta Agunja tested positive in 2016 for one of the human papillomaviruses (HPV) that leads to cervical cancer.

After two years of intensive and expensive treatment, she was free of HPV and did not get cancer.

Agunja hopes Kenya’s mass vaccination of girls, launched in October, will prevent her 10-year-old daughter from also getting the virus.

“That vaccine, I need it to help my daughter and other women who are not sexually active now,” said Agunja. “When they become sexually active, they will be already protected so that they cannot go through what I went through, because women in informal settlement(s) cannot afford that much.”

Kenya is offering the free HPV vaccine as part of the county’s routine immunization schedule to 10-year-old girls.

Doctors say the vaccine program is a major milestone in the fight against cervical cancer in East Africa, which has the highest rate in the world.

Dr. Catherine Nyongesa is the director of the Texas Cancer Center, a private hospital started in 2010 to offer specialized cancer treatment.

Cervical Cancer
In October, Kenya launched a mass vaccination of girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer. Pixabay

“Parents are encouraged to take their children for vaccination but, all the same, vaccination does not give one the guarantee that you will not get the cancer,” said Nyongesa. “But studies in developed countries have shown that actually the rate of cervical cancer goes down with planned, proper immunization.”

At least seven women die every day in Kenya from cervical cancer, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry says the HPV vaccine could cut the rate of cervical cancer by up to 70 percent.

Cicily Kariuki is Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for health.

“We have managed to distribute the vaccine to 47 counties, in all of the public facilities,” said Kariuki. “We have covered an upward of up to 300,000 girls to date.  The target continues because our target is 800,000 girls.”

At least 115 countries have made the HPV vaccine routine, including some in East Africa.

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Rwanda first introduced the vaccine in 2006, followed by Uganda in 2015 and Tanzania in 2018.

While Kenya normally leads development in the region, its efforts in preventing cervical cancer are seen by many – including Agunja – as better late than never. (VOA)