A WINGS jornada en Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa
We have an exciting advancement to share today regarding our efforts to prevent cervical cancer in Guatemalan women. In partnership with the US-based organization Hands of Healing, WINGS will be bringing a new technology - thermocoagulation - to our patients in 2022!
Remind me - what is WINGS’ process now?
Cervical cancer is currently the number one cause of cancer-related death in Guatemalan women - and is entirely preventable. To tackle this reality, WINGS incorporates voluntary cancer screenings into our jornadas (or clinic days). When precancerous cells are found during a screening, WINGS’ staff immediately treat the patient using cryotherapy, which destroys abnormal cells. Cryotherapy is reliable and effective; however, it has some limitations. Transitioning fully to thermocoagulation will allow us to provide the best possible experience for our patients.
Interesting. Why thermocoagulation?
Thermocoagulation is a process that uses heat instead of extreme cold to destroy precancerous cells discovered during a visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) screening. This transition has 3 incredible benefits:
- Improved availability of treatment Unliked cryotherapy, which requires the WINGS team to carry a heavy liquid nitrogen gas tank, thermocoagulation units are light and chargeable. With thermocoagulation, WINGS’ nurses can carry a unit in their backpack and can treat patients even when they are traveling on foot to our hardest-to-reach communities.
- Reduced chance of needing to defer treatment With thermocoagulation, we can treat 100 patients with every charge, while each tank of nitrogen gas can only treat a few patients. This means that we never risk detecting precancerous cells and being unable to provide immediate treatment.
- Better patient experience Treatment of precancerous cells is intimate and can be uncomfortable for women regardless of their environment. Cryotherapy treatment takes 11 minutes on average while thermocoagulation only takes 2. While neither is painful, we are excited to adopt a faster, equally effective technology.
We are so appreciative of Hands of Healing for enabling this transition to happen, and thank each of you for your continued support. Stay tuned for updates on the roll-out and what we learn along the way!
Wishing you all the best,
Elissa and the entire team at WINGS Guatemala