Lack of gynecological health services link cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS
According to recent studies, a weakened immune system due to HIV significantly increases a woman's chance of developing cervical cancer. Since Tanzania has high HIV rates, a new program was started in November 2012 at Musoma Regional Hospital, which is in the Mara Region in north Tanzania. Now women who come to Musoma to be screened for HIV/AIDS also receive cervical cancer screening.
On a late afternoon Dec. 10, it was a hot day in Tanzania. The short, rainy season made the heat bearable. There were four women waiting to be screened for cervical cancer. Ten women already were screened, and the day wasn’t over.
Shamim Shabani Sarehe from Kyakato village in Musoma was one of those women. A 28-year-old married mother of three, she has had continuous bleeding. Even though a mass was removed from her uterus last year, the bleeding returned a month later. When she learned the hospital offered screenings, she decided to make the journey as she began to also suffer from breast pain.
RN Plaxeda Pande and Midwife Joachim Masunga performed the cervical cancer screening and breast exam to find that Shamim didn’t have any abnormal breast tissue and her cervix was normal. She was referred to the hospital gynecologist to address her bleeding. In one year, Shamim can return for her annual screening.
Post-screening, Shamim said that “received very [good] service and feels the program is very good and relevant. [The cervical cancer program] is very important because so many women have problems with their reproductive organs and they need these services to treat them.” Shamim said she believes services like these should be provided for all women who have similar problems.
More than 100 people recently gathered at the warehouse at IMA World Health’s headquarters in New Windsor, Maryland, to volunteer IMA’s first “SMK Day” event. The goal was to pack 3,000 Safe Motherhood Kits™ or SMKs in three hours.
After a fast-paced morning working in shifts in an assembly line, the volunteers easily surpassed the goal, packing more than 3,500 SMKs with essential clean and sterile supplies for a safer childbirth.
Supplies for these kits were made possible by indvidual donors and local business leaders.
For more photos from SMK DAY at IMA visit our Facebook page!
These items included a plastic sheet, an absorbent underpad, surgical gloves, gauze pads, a sterile umbilical tie and scalpel, soap, a washcloth and a baby layette. This set of simple but essential items in developing countries and disaster zones to help to prevent maternal infection and support maternal and newborn child health.
When the assembly lines reached capacity, other volunteers cut plastic sheeting to size, folded baby blankets and prepared boxes of SMKs for shipment. In the past year, more than 13,000 SMKs were distributed to IMA partner clinics in Haiti,DR Congo and South Sudan to help reduce maternal mortality.
SMK Day volunteers ranged in age and background, with our youngest “volunteer” sleeping in an infant carrier on his mother’s chest. Local Soroptimist, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs sent representatives, and many local churches and schools were also represented. Some came from as far as Villanova University located outside Philadelphia, PA, and groups also came from McDaniel College, Gettysburg College and Frederick Community College.
“I am very pleased with how the local community rallied together to support this important project,” said Rick Santos, President and CEO of IMA World Health. “It was exciting to see such a diverse and eager group taking time out of their Saturday to serve others in need. Everyone was really bustling and working hard, and the best part is that thousands of people will benefit from these Safe Motherhood Kits™.”
A special thanks to donors and volunteers for joining together to make a great impact for expectant mothers and their babies! IMA is already looking forward to the next SMK Day in late spring.
It's late August and 9-year-old Sada just finished 12 weeks of Burkitt's Lymphoma (BL) treatment at Muhimbili National Hospital. She's eagerly awaiting her return home to the Tabora Region in central Tanzania, about 1,200km from Dar es Salaam.
In March 2012, Sada complained about abdominal fullness and a small swelling on her left cheek. She was given anti-worm medication from the local drug shop. Since the swelling was painless, it was ignored. She lived with her uncle's family as an orphan, and received limited attention to her health condition. Two weeks later, the swelling in her cheek increased to the size of a fist. Sada was taken to the dispensary where the swelling was mistakenly treated as an abscess. Over time, her condition worsened, and she ended up at the Kahama District Hospital. At Kahama, Sada's uncle was told to take her to Muhimbili National Hospital. Travel to Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam posed a real challenge for the family. Aside from the travel costs, no one could accompany the child to the hospital. Sada's only sister, Aisha, was summoned to take her to the hospital.
"I had to wean my baby abruptly, so that I could save the life of my young sister," said Aisha, who was married and nursing her 1-year-old child.
Aisha's husband paid the travel costs, and the baby was left at her uncle's house. Sada, accompanied by her elder sister, was brought to Muhimbili National Hospital with low expectations. In fact, they thought she was going to die in the hospital.
At Muhimbili National Hospital, Sada was re-examinedand was properly diagnosed with BL. Within 48 hours of arrival, treatment was started and the tumor began rapid and remarkable shrinkage. In the fourth week, the swelling disappeared and Sada was able to play with other children.
"I am very grateful to God and to the doctors and nurses here at Muhimbili [National Hospital]. My young sister has completed treatment, her health is restored and we are excitedly waiting for transport support so that we can go back home." Aish said. "It is not easy staying in the hospital for so long especially when you are far from your home. Since we were admitted, nobody came from home to visit us. However, I do not blame them; it is because of the distance and travel cost. If these treatments were offered at the regional or district hospital, at least some could afford coming to visit us and I could have time to be with my baby."