MOBILE HEALTH CLINICS & CERVICAL CANCER
More than 85% of deaths attributed to cervical cancer occur in developing nations, where health systems are not equipped to provide broad-based and high-quality cervical cancer screening or the necessary follow up and treatment for women with early stages of cancer.
Cervical cancer is NOT an equal opportunity cancer.
With the widespread adoption of Pap tests to identify cervical cell abnormalities, the incidence of cervical cancer has declined dramatically in the most developed nations. In the United States, the incidence decreased by more than 55% between 1955 and 1992 and now accounts for less than 2 deaths per 100,000 women. In just a few decades, it has been proven that by combining effective screening and early treatment with public education, cervical cancer is both preventable and largely curable. However, this is not yet the reality everywhere.
In Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Americas, cervical cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer, accounting for more than 18 deaths per 100,000 women.
Currently the Ministry of Health does not have approved national HPV testing or vaccine programs, continuing to rely on traditional screening and treatment to reduce the prevalence of the disease. The problem is greatest in remote communities that lack access to basic health care, have low population literacy rates and early onset of sexual activity.
Lily’s mobile health clinics deliver free health care to women and girls in rural villages where the need is greatest.
Designed to serve the whole-health needs of women, clinics provide cervical cancer screening and treatment, sexual/reproductive health education, and trauma counseling at a cost of less than $10/woman.
Lily adheres to all protocols approved by Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health (MINSA), developed and aligned with the recommendations of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). Following MINSA protocols, Lily screens women for cervical cancer using either Pap or visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) – a simple, cost-effective screening procedure using vinegar to detect precancerous lesions.
The process for women who have a positive screening includes: proactive monitoring; cryotherapy to remove precancerous lesions; additional screening/biopsy resulting in continued monitoring or expedited referral to a national hospital for cancer treatment.
Lily currently operates two mobile clinics located in Matagalpa and Leon Nicaragua with the capacity to screen 6,600 women per year. Mobile clinics require no electricity and are set up in minutes, typically in a school or church. Not only are clinics designed to make examinations possible in difficult settings, they also offer women privacy and peace of mind during the exam, which is often a woman’s first health care experience.
Four young Nicaraguans staff each mobile clinic – an experienced Lily team leader, 2 interns and a male driver for security. Interns are recent nursing school graduates from the University of Nicaragua. Lily pays these interns to spend 2 years serving rural communities and during this time they receive skills-based training, leadership development, and professional mentoring to empower their future success. After serving 2 years, interns either become employed as a Lily team leader or within the Nicaraguan health system.