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In August of 2016 with a seed grant provided by Atlas Coffee Importers, TREE partnered with Othaya Farmer’s Cooperative Society Limited an organization of 19 small coffee factories which sources coffee from family-owned farms in Nyeri County. The program leverages the resources of the coffee cooperatives to mobilize farmers to receive preventative health services including cervical cancer screening and treatment. Our goal was to start work with a single coffee cooperative and expand the expertise our team has gained from clinical research of cervical cancer and apply these skills to secondary prevention programs for women engaged in the agricultural industry.
TREE in collaboration and Aga-Khan University Hospital deployed a mobile health clinic to host a cervical cancer screening event at Gatuyaini coffee factory. By using a clinic on wheels, the Aga Khan mobile clinic is outfitted with examination rooms so that TREE is able to bring cervical cancer screening services directly to where women work so they don’t have to travel to obtain vital care. TREE screens women using a screening strategy known as Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid or VIA which involves swabbing the cervix with a simple solution of household vinegar and under a bright light looking to see if there are abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix which can indicate pre-cancerous cell changes. When a woman receives a positive screening result, a woman can often be treated with cryotherapy on the same day. This treatment uses either nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide gas to freeze potentially pre-cancerous cells
Over the one-day screening event, TREE screened 89 women, 77 had no signs of cervical pre-cancer. Of the 12 women with a positive screen, 9 women were treated immediately using cryotherapy. Three women had cervical lesions that were large or showed signs of more serious disease. TREE staff works closely with the women and the coffee cooperative to refer these women to Aga-Khan University Hospital in Nairobi to ensure they receive appropriate follow-up care.
Cervical cancer is preventable. Timely screening and treatment has the potential to save lives and improve livelihoods. As World Cancer Day approaches in February, TREE is proud of our partnerships and work toward improving cervical cancer prevention services in Kenya.
TREE nurse, Christine Njiru, prepares the examination room for cervical cancer screening
TREE nurses prepare the treatment tent and set up the cryotherapy machine.
Success! Team picture after screening event in Nyeri