This year the Connaxis communications team visited all four countries where the PRESCRIP-TEC project is being carried out. Uganda was the last field visit of the year. During this visit, they had the pleasure of being accompanied by Dr van Slooten, the supervising doctor of the Female Cancer Foundation.
They met with the Uganda project partners from the Uganda Rural Development Training (URDT) and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) while visiting the Kakumiro district.
Connaxis field visits
To further strengthen the communication skills of URDT and UCI, Connaxis held a communication workshop at the URDT office in Kisiita, in the Kakumiro district of Uganda. The teams reviewed the community mobilisation activities carried out to date and the communication material which had been produced. In this way, they were able to align themselves with the situation in Uganda, taking into account the communication work done so far. They also identified the most effective messages and how to frame and distribute them to successfully reach the current target audiences.
One of the main objectives of Connaxis was to document PRESCRIP-TEC’s work in the country. This is why they interviewed some of the URDT and UCI team members.
They also took pictures and videos of nurses treating patients who had tested positive for HPV, and two Village Health Team members and some beneficiaries were interviewed. One of the interviews was with a couple whose personal story can serve as an example of good practice. The husband was very supportive of his wife at all times and encouraged her to get screened – now the woman is one of the project’s beneficiaries.
Dr. Frederik van Slooten’s fieldwork
Dr. van Slooten had the opportunity to visit the project in the sub-county of Mpsasaana to see the progress in all phases of the fieldwork, as it is now fully operational. This also implied to observe the daily work in the laboratory, discuss the data collection, plan the evaluation of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Electronic Medical Record (EMR), and meet the complete URDT team in Kisiita.
One of the main objectives of this visit was to review and reduce the number of referrals from Mpasaana. As the women in this sub-county were screened in the past months, quite a large number of them were classified as needing a referral. Dr van Slooten, together with Rosemary Birungi, the project-nurse from URDT, and Dr. Carol Nagasaki planned a review of these women, taking pathology biopsies in the field, and then referring when necessary.
“During my last trip I made friends in Uganda. With this second trip it feels as though I have family over there. I was already impressed with the work that URDT, UCI and PRESCRIP-TEC were doing. Seeing it again after a couple of months, I can only be so proud to be part of it.”Frederik van Slooten
Community mobilisation in Masaka sub-county
URDT has been very active in community mobilisation during the past months. The main activities have been:
- Awareness and prevention sessions in the communities, using visual communication aids aimed at women with a low educational level.
- Door to door visits to beneficiary women to inform them about the PRESCRIP-TEC project and the importance of cervical cancer prevention.
- Weekly broadcasting on a local radio station to talk about cervical cancer prevention and to promote the PRESCRIP-TEC project.
- Production of merchandise and posters to increase awareness.
During the field visit, the Connaxis team and Dr. van Slooten were able to observe a community mobilisation session about the PRESCRIP-TEC project. All the URDT members and visitors attended a presentation by the Village Health Team volunteers (VHT). The community trusts their VHTs. During this session, Mrs. Tereza Nyamaizi presented excellent community lessons about HPV and cervical cancer.
During the week of the visits, URDT also presented an awareness session on the radio at prime time. Radio is the most effective medium of communication in Uganda. This is why the URDT team is using it for community mobilisation. Despite the extensive radio coverage, however, because of the local circumstances in many settings, the only way to reach all the beneficiary women is through face to face activities. The work of the village health teams and the URDT health workers is key in the project.
Visit to the facilities of the Uganda Cancer Institute
On the last day of the visit the Connaxis team, Ms. Shamim Namagembe, Dr. van Slooten and the UCI team visited the UCI facilities at the Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala.
They toured the clinical departments as well in the locations where the research is being conducted. They even visited the radiotherapy department.
They also had the opportunity to meet the chairman of the UCI, Dr. Orem Jackson.
Positive outcomes of the field visit
Dr. van Slooten and the team on the ground have been able to significantly reduce the number of referrals. What could also be seen during the field visit was the impressive and inspiring teamwork between the URDT and the UCI. They have done excellent work in implementing the project in the Mpasaana sub county and we have high expectations for the roll-out of the project, starting with opportunistic screening, in the new Masaka sub county.
Furthermore, the interviews carried out with the beneficiaries and all the audio-visual materials collected will allow Connaxis to produce human-interest stories and informative materials to show how PRESCRIP-TEC is having a real impact on the health of communities.
What I find most interesting about PRESCRIP-TEC is the implementation part. – it is a research project where you can see the real impact. I think this motivates all of us. In all four countries, you can see that people are very dedicated to this work. Uganda is no exception.Ekaterina Gómez (Eka)
On behalf of the PRESCRIP-TEC consortium and partners, we congratulate the Ugandan team for the great work they are doing! And we want to thank them for their warm hospitality.