Saturday, July 22, 2017

Matooke Fields Forever

Hello from Uganda! Our MHIRT team has been keeping busy the past few weeks, and we have finally wrapped up our HPV and cervical cancer research for the summer. We have talked to 118 healthcare workers and community members, both through individual interviews and in group interview settings. While we may be done with field work, the next week here in Ishaka will be spent analyzing our data and getting started on the research paper. Though we are still synthesizing our data, there have been some common themes that have been repeated throughout the summer. For example, among healthcare workers, there is great discrepancy in their knowledge about the appropriate age for HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screenings. Additionally, there is also a lack of knowledge about the cervical cancer screening process among community members. On multiple occasions, we have spoken to community members that have mentioned incorrect beliefs about the screening process. In the US and other developed nations, Pap smears are the most common way to get screened for cervical cancer. However, in Uganda, like other developing countries, VIA screening (visual inspection with acetic acid) is the gold standard. This is because the results of the screening can be relayed to the patient just one minute after acetic acid is applied to the cervix, compared to Pap smears which require advanced and expensive laboratory services. Some women believe that in order to get a VIA screening, the uterus must be removed from your body. They think that the acetic acid will be applied to the uterus and any changes will be noted, then the uterus will be re-inserted. The fear that results from this incorrect understanding of the cervical cancer screening process is one factor that prevents women from getting screened. This in turn may contribute to women reporting to health centers when their cervical cancer is already late stage.  

Outside of field work, we’ve also had the chance to travel quite a bit. This summer we have been on safari at Queen Elizabeth National Park, toured Kampala, and most recently visited Kigali, Rwanda. In Rwanda we had the opportunity to learn about the 1994 genocide and its lasting effects when we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. 

It’s hard to believe we have less than 10 days in Uganda. I’ve made some great friends in this country (many of them pictured in the photos attached to this post), and it’s going to be difficult saying goodbye next week!

Daryl, Moreen (our friend and the caretaker of the guesthouse), Me, Hermon, Kinnon and Dixon 

One of my favorite photos with our translator and good friend, Sam! 

Our research team in Kigali, Rwanda 

Spending the day with co-workers and friends, Anthony and Susan in Nyakashebeya. His family grows the most delicious pineapple I've ever eaten! 

Outside the home of an IHP Chairwoman who arranged a focus group for our team in Kizinda   

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