The high prevalence of risk factors such as early initiation of sexual activity and high fertility rates combine with a lack of screening programs to produce high rates of cervical cancer. Where screenings are available, health staff are often inadequately trained in the procedure and unable to speak the Mayan language of their patients. As a result, many women are afraid to undergo the exam or do not return to receive their results. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer is usually terminal.
WINGS Cervical Cancer Program screens rural, indigenous, under-served Guatemalan women utilizing the VIA/Cryo method. This low-cost method is highly effective and is carried out by WINGS staff who speak the local language and are trained to provide high-quality, sensitive and patient-focused care. Because results are immediate, women can be treated then and there should abnormal cell changes be discovered (or referred for specialist care if the lesions are advanced).
This project reduces the mortality rate of Guatemalan women due to cervical cancer by providing cervical screenings and highly effective preventive treatment where cell abnormalities are discovered. Guatemalan women frequently have many children and are often single parents, and in a country with no social security their survival is vital to the survival of their children. By saving the lives of women, the quality of life and standard of living of families and communities is greatly increased.