In a surprising move that hopefully demonstrates a new commitment to women’s health issues, Guatemala’s Ministry of Health recently launched an initiative that aims to screen 85% of reproductive-age women in Guatemala for cervical cancer by 2012. The initiative is bold and necessary, as cervical cancer is a deadly killer in Guatemala. According the World Health Organization, cervical cancer affects more Guatemalan women annually than breast, stomach, or ovarian cancer. Cervical cancer also has the highest mortality rate of any cancer in Guatemala, including those affecting men, despite being one of the most easily detectable and easily treatable (when caught early) types of cancer. In Guatemala, only 40% of women have ever received a pap smear, and the vast majority of those who have been tested at least once do not receive screening on a regular basis.
In recognition of the successful efforts of WINGS’ Cervical Cancer program, the Ministry of Health has asked WINGS to help in reaching their ambitious goal. In 2009, WINGS will participate in four trainings with a local partner organization, Faith in Practice, in which WINGS staff will help train government health service providers and other NGOs on the VIA/Cryo method that WINGS currently utilizes. Unlike pap smears, visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid (VIA) allows for an instant diagnosis, a benefit which is crucial in a country where even a single trip to a doctor can be too costly in time and money for many women. And, when VIA is paired with cryotherapy treatment (CRYO), almost half of women who show pre-cancerous lesions can obtain same-day treatment.
On behalf of the team here at WINGS and the thousands of Guatemalans that benefit from your contributions, thank you! We are grateful for your support.