On March 29 the U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, presented 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 Ambassador also sat in on a patient education session to learn more about the procedure.
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.