Elimination of Cervical Cancer in Haiti: 10 Departments Now Equipped with Materials for Thermoablation of Precancerous Lesions

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OPS/OMS | Clervil Jean Markens

Port-au-Prince, June 7, 2024 (PAHO) - The Direction de la Santé de la Famille (DSF) and the Programme Nationale de Lutte contre le Sida (PNLS) of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), with the full support of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and other MSPP partners including UNAIDS, a week of training, from May 27 to 31, 2024, in Les Cayes, on the screening and treatment of precancerous cervical lesions by thermocoagulation for fourteen healthcare providers from the Grand Sud and Ouest departments. At the end of this activity, a thermocoagulation device was given to each of the departments represented, bringing to 10 the number of departments equipped with such a device.

This activity is part of PAHO's Disease Elimination Initiative, which aims to eliminate up to 30 communicable diseases and related conditions in the Americas by 2030. Among these diseases is cervical cancer, caused by the human papilloma virus, for which the specific objectives are to screen 70% of women at age 35 and again at age 45, treat 90% of women with precancerous lesions, vaccinate 90% of girls against human papilloma virus before age 15, and contribute to the management of people with invasive cancers.

Consultation of cervical cancer

For the heads of the MSPP's Direction de la Santé de la Famille (DSF) and Programme National de Lutte contre le Sida (PNLS), this training activity was of great importance. According to Dr. Marie Yves Carm Colimon, head of department at the DSF, "the training and the introduction of this new device will enable them to reduce the number of women dying from cervical cancer in Haiti". For Dr. Neptune Patrice, obstetrician-gynecologist at PNLS, "precancerous lesions develop much more rapidly in women with HIV. He believes that this new step in the treatment of lesions will be of great benefit to his sector. "This training will enable us not only to train other providers, but also to offer screening and treatment services to the population of the West," said Dr. Levelt Eugene, obstetrician-gynecologist at the Profamil clinic.

Meanwhile, awareness-raising activities and screening and treatment clinics for precancerous cervical lesions have begun at the Hôpital Immaculée Conception (HIC) in Les Cayes and the Hôpital Communautaire de Référence (HCR) in Port-Salut, reported Dr. Anthony Monfiston, Technical Officer for Maternal, Neonatal and Adolescent Health at PAHO/WHO in Haiti. According to him, 694 women have been screened (VIA/VILI), 74 women with a positive result have been treated with thermocoagulation, 60 women have had a Pap test. And 2 suspected cases of cervical cancer were referred for appropriate follow-up.

Donation of materials

After a consultation session at the maternity ward of Hôpital Immaculée Conception (HIC) in Les Cayes, twenty-something Chérismon Jeunèse praised the initiative and encouraged women to get tested.  "People say it's painful, but it wasn't, plus the test took very little time, I encourage women who already have sexual relations to get screened for cervical cancer." With a look of relief on her face, she took the opportunity to congratulate all those involved in providing these services at the hospital.

Salle d'attente des patients pour depistage de cancer de col de l'uterus

"At the Port-Salut Community Reference Hospital (HCR), awareness-raising, screening and treatment activities for cervical lesions have had a strong impact," reported Aline Cadet, Midwife at the HCR, as she attended the closing ceremony of the training course. In less than three days, she reported having screened more than sixty-one people with precancerous lesions and 2 women with lesions suspicious of cancer. She guarantees that, from now on, the entire population of the South Coast will benefit.