From the 5th to 9th of October we will be running a free HPV self-collection campaign in Aitong Health Centre and Angama clinics, Maasai Mara. We are targeting 200 women and girls of reproductive age i.e. between 12 and 49 years. We have partnered with Angama Foundation (the CSR for Angama), Kicheche Community Trust (the CSR for Kicheche Camps) and Community Health Partners our hosts in Aitong. This will be a follow-up from last year’s campaign in which we tested 138 women and out of these 32 tested positive for HPV presenting a 23% prevalence rate which is quite high.
In our HPV campaigns, the women take the samples themselves, in privacy, because we are aware that uptake would be higher if we eliminate pelvic exams often administered by doctors and clinicians. Also because of cultural inhibitions in our Maa communities issues around reproductive health are still considered taboo and embarrassing. In addition, a sizeable number of women have experienced abuse and because of the trauma, they prefer self-sampling. We have trained the nurses and clinicians in Aitong to instruct the women on how to take the samples and once collected, they are tested in a lab here in Nairobi. The lab will email the test results directly to our volunteer doctors.
Why HPV testing? Human Papillomavirus is one of the viruses that cause cervical cancer, and cervical cancer is the second most common cancer amongst women aged 15-49 years old. The good news is that it can be prevented before it develops through vaccination and screening. Screening with the appropriate tests allows doctors to determine if a woman is at risk and, if they are, they are advised on what needs to be done to prevent them from developing the disease. Those women who tested positive last year and those who test positive this year will be seen by our volunteer doctors on the 27th of October at Aitong Health Centre and Angama Clinic. Dr. Claudia Mason gives more details: Watch video
Angama has provided funds to test 100 women and will provide accommodation for 4 people (two staff from Land & Life and 2 volunteer doctors). Kicheche has provided funds for fuel, transportation of the HPV kits to the Mara, and the samples from the Mara to the lab.
Next steps: We see this as a 10-year project. To ensure that it is sustainable, with the women’s consent our two doctors will do a survey this year. With our help, they will collect data and use the findings to publish in medical journals, present in conferences, and submit proposals. These are all aimed at creating awareness about the prevalence of the cases in this area and look for partnerships with organizations that support cervical cancer prevention and treatment.
If you wish to get involved in any way or need more information please write to us, we would love to hear from you!