WINDHOEK, MARCH 29 – Today, U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, will present certificates of completion to healthcare providers from the Khomas Region who have been trained on the “screen and treat” procedure as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relieve (PEPFAR). The media is invited to attend this handover from 15:30 to 16:30 during which the Ambassador will deliver brief remarks.
The “screen and treat” approach uses visualization with acetic acid (VIA) to identify pre-cancerous lesions on the cervix. During the week, the health care providers have been trained to apply acetic acid (vinegar) to a cervix to identify pre-cancerous lesions. If there are abnormal cells, the cervix will change colour and the healthcare provider can immediately treat the abnormal cells with a freezing technique called cryotherapy. By the end of a 15 minute clinical visit, a woman can go from having the threat of precancerous cells growing, to being completely treated and healthy. A woman identified with precancerous cells will be asked to return for a follow-up screening one year post-treatment to ensure that she has been effectively treated and no pre-cancerous cells remain.
VIA is as a simple, cost effective, and highly efficient screening method. By introducing the “screen and treat” approach, the Ministry of Health and Social Services will eliminate the long waiting times for women to be identified with precancerous lesions and referred for further treatment.
PEPFAR is the largest commitment ever by a single nation toward an international health initiative – a comprehensive approach to combating HIV/AIDS around the world. In Namibia, PEPFAR is led by the U.S. Ambassador and programmed by a team chaired by the PEPFAR Coordinator that includes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Peace Corps.
PEPFAR’s support, including investment to prevent cervical cancer in HIV positive women, will enable Namibia to rapidly accelerate progress towards eliminating cervical cancer in the country by targeting the most at-risk women with an effective and efficient screening technique. – NDN Staffer