During September 2021, 50 Friendship Community MedicAids (FCM’s) in the South of Bangladesh received intensive training which will go a long way towards prevention and early treatment of cervical cancer in the communities they serve.
As part of the PRESCRIP-TEC project, the training took place on September 27, 2021 while seven representatives of FRIENDSHIP and lcddr,b, were visiting the area. The main aim of the week-long field visit by experts from Dhaka was to analyze the situation in the South of Bangladesh.
The 50 mHealth FCM’s who participated in the training were divided into two groups of 25 for intensive sessions lasting almost six hours. Presenters included Dr. Naheed Nazrul and Dr. Mosamat Umma Kulsum who are experts in the field of cervical cancer.
Topics covered in the training included awareness, coverage, uptake, HPV, self-swab collection for HPV testing, the data collection survey, different types of tools which would be used in the survey, collecting patient consent, mode of transport, assisted collection, patient exclusion and selection criteria and achieving the targets of the project.
An interactive session with personal stories and common issues
During interactive sessions the FCM’s also joined in with lively discussions about the problems and constraints which they are experiencing.
The distance in the area was one of the topics discussed. In one group of 25 FCMs, 15 had traveled by boat and then road while 10 had traveled over land only. FCM Khadija had to travel by boat and then over land over a distance of nearly 6 Km. FCM Sahara had to travel for 30 minutes over land.
FCM Mira told of her experiences as a cancer survival warrior in 2017. Her treatment cost her almost 10,000 taka in one year.
The FCMs were happy to learn that the services would be taken to the doorsteps of women in the community. They reported that one of their biggest challenges was patients who wanted to have a VIA done but who were afraid to ask for permission from their husbands.
The FCMs were asked to do VIA screening, and few of the participants had already performed VIA screening. Participants who had not yet had the VIA screening said that they were looking forward to doing it at the Friendship Hospital Shaymnager (FHS). This hospital was much closer to them compared to Khulna Medical.
Details on the monitoring process
The target for HPV screening in South Bangladesh is 3000 samples meaning that 7 to 8 months will be needed. According to the FCMs there were many community clinics in Shaymnagar but unfortunately they did not offer the comprehensive package that is available at FHS. At this hospital awareness sessions are done every day followed by VIA screening and then Cryotherapy treatment if needed.
The FCMs explained that when a patient tests positive at a community clinic they are referred to the Gobindaganj opposite health complex where, if they are identified as having cervical cancer they are referred on to the Rangpur Medical College. Many women are not willing to travel the distances and so become drop out cases at the community clinic.
In the PRESCRIP-TEC project, referral and cancer patients will be paid 5000 BDT for transport costs so that they will be motivated to take cancer treatment.
Also discussed were the sample sizes of the cases in the intervention areas and control groups in non-intervention areas in the North and South of the geographical region.
Facilitator: Dr. Naheed and Dr. Kulsum
Date: 28th Batch 01 and 29th Batch 02 September 2021