Four Commonwealth Alumni working as health professionals in the Kabarole District area in Uganda, created a video to raise awareness about regular cervical cancer screening to avoid late-stage diagnosis when treatment is no longer possible. The video encourages girls aged between 10 and 13 years to take up the HPV vaccination which can reduce their chances of developing cervical cancer. The group included lead organiser, Dorine Natukunda, a Medical Clinical Officer, Irene Kabachaki, a registered nurse, and Rebecca Balinja and Euphrasia Kabahuma, both registered midwives.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer amongst women in Uganda. In 2017, it was reported to be the number one cause of cancer-related deaths. Without a formal national screening programme available, there is limited awareness of the disease and the importance of cervical screening to aid early detection. Instead, a number of myths and misconceptions have developed which prevent women and girls from understanding the health risks and preventative measures available. It is, therefore, essential that women undergo cervical screenings for early detection to avoid serious health risks.
Since publishing the video, it has been screened in the health clinics where the alumni work. They estimate that at least 90% of women attending the clinics have viewed the video. The alumni are also pleased to report an increase in the number of women visiting their clinics for cervical screenings. They also note that HIV positive women have become more aware of the extent of the risks to them and have shown eagerness to take advantage of the screening services, in addition to their anti-retroviral treatment services.
Dorine Natukunda, Irene Kabachaki, and Rebecca Balinja are 2019 Commonwealth Professional Fellows. They completed their Fellowship with Knowledge for Change. Euphrasia Kabahuma is a 2015 Commonwealth Professional Fellow and completed her Fellowship at the University of Salford.