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Feb 7, 2017

At last, our very own ultrasound machine!

Hlokomela's new ultrasound machine!

At last, our very own ultrasound machine!

First of all, thank you to you, our donors, for enabling us to take this project from strength to strength. Without your support none of the amazing achievements we’ve made so far would have been possible.

Breast cancer screening is now available at Hlokomela Clinic! This is exciting news for our area as women in this part of South Africa are often not diagnosed with breast cancer until it is too late to treat. More than 3000 women die every year in South Africa due to breast cancer.

During December we took a major leap forward with this project when our very own ultrasound machine, which we bought with GlobalGiving funds (your donations!), was delivered to Hlokomela Clinic. Tanya Reynolds, an application specialist at Malaika Medical and Dr Su Lucas, a radiologist from Chris Hani Baragwanath Hosptial in Johannesburg, trained our nurses on how to do breast examinations with the machine. The training was made possible through a partnership with Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA) and the radiology department at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and builds on training that our nurses received earlier this year.

Taking on breast cancer screening as another full time service offered at Hlokomela clinic is however asking a lot of nurses who are already booked back to back for consultations. Therefore we hope to add a dedicated women’s health extension to the clinic. Here a dedicated nurse will do breast cancer as well as cervical cancer screening.

This is all very exciting for us at Hlokomela! GlobalGiving has indirectly given us the opportunity to work with different health and learning institutions on the very same project. What a wonderful added bonus this is to being part of the GG network! Currently, staff at Johns Hopkins University and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York are partnering on how they can send Hlokomela trained volunteers to help with the implementation of our women’s health services.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the exciting developments at Hlokomela!


Oct 25, 2016

More training essential for Ultrasound Screening

Clinic staff with Dr Susan Harvey & volunteers
Clinic staff with Dr Susan Harvey & volunteers

Wow, providing breast cancer treatment for female farm workers has been a real learning curve for our nursing staff here at Hlokomela Clinic in Hoedspruit, South Africa! But it’s been a journey that would not even be possible without you, our donors.

After the first round of ultrasound training for our Professional Nurses and Assistant Nurses in July, Dr Susan Harvey and two biomedical engineering students from Johns Hopkins University returned in August for a week of intensive theoretical and practical training. Sister Julies Moriri says: “The training was excellent but it felt like only one day because it was so intense. I look forward to the next training session”.

In the meantime we are expecting delivery of the full sized ultrasound machine that we were able to buy with your donations. Dr Susan Lucas, Head of Clinical Unit: Breast Imaging at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa will be at Hlokomela Clinic when the machine arrives and will be on staff twice a month to support our nurses with ongoing training.

Thank you once again for contributing to make such a huge difference in our vulnerable farm workers’ lives! As it is a multi-purpose ultrasound machine that will be arriving at Hlokomela shortly, we hope that this project will one day also be used in obstetrics where it can be a point of care for improving pre-natal care and HIV treatment so that more babies are born HIV negative.

Jul 28, 2016

Ultrasound Screening Program in Full Swing!

Nurse doing an ultrasound screening
Nurse doing an ultrasound screening

I’d like to start by again expressing our infinite appreciation for your generous donations and continuing support of Hoedspruit Training Trust and the breast cancer project. We have secured Hlokomela’s very own-multi-purpose ultrasound machine, which we believe will be an invaluable asset for local communities in detecting breast cancer earlier, and a critical first step toward improved treatment and survival. Importantly, the purchase of ultrasound equipment has nurtured collaboration with RAD-AID, an internal radiology NGO. This will allow access to a large number of trained radiology volunteers to continue breast ultrasound education at Hlokomela, with the potential for the machine to be used in the future for general ultrasound work such as prenatal scans and in patients with TB- or HIV-related symptoms.  This incredible opportunity could not have happened without you—we are extremely grateful.


The health worker training program kicked off in late June with a breast health education session at Hlokomela’s staff retreat. Our team—Drs. Susan Lucas, Palesa Mutshutshu and Tarryn Murfin,from the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Wits University in Johannesburg, and myself—spoke to Hlokomela’s staff about breast cancer in South Africa and the potential for breast ultrasound to bring positive change to the community. We even demonstrated how to conduct a monthly breast self examination, and encouraged staff members to spread the word to family, friends, and patients!


On July 5th, we officially launched breast ultrasound training. Twelve health workers from the Hlokomela and Bavaria clinics attended the didactic portion of the training, which consisted of presentations and handouts covering breast cancer facts, the project’s vision, training objectives, indications for ultrasound, breast anatomy, technical factors, lesion characterization including how to differentiate between benign and malignant masses, and the review of over a dozen cases. The following two and a half weeks were devoted to hands-on training with a portable ultrasound machine—generously lent by Chison to use until the full-sized machine arrives—which involved tutorial sessions as well as performing breast ultrasound scans for more than 20patients. Each patient visit involved asking about personal and family history of breast cancer, screening for common breast cancer-related symptoms, performing a full breast ultrasound scan, and counseling patients on how to perform monthly breast self exams. The health workers have shown an incredible investment in promoting breast cancer awareness and early detection using ultrasound, and have expressed a strong desire to augment training in order to better serve the community. As one health worker stated: “Knowledge is power. The more I learn, the more my facility will survive.”


Looking forward, we will strive to provide sustained support as this exciting program grows. Dr. Susan Harvey and two biomedical engineering students from Johns Hopkins will visit Hoedspruit in August to follow up on ultrasound training and strengthen connections at Hlokomela and surrounding clinics. The larger project vision is to use available proven technology—ultrasound for detection, fine needle aspiration for diagnosis, and cryotherapy for treatment—to transform breast cancer care by making each step accessible to the community, demonstrating the project’s feasibility and ultimately obtaining funds to scale a cost-effective and locally available breast cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment program.   

Training team
Training team
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