Pepal Foundation, through the NJIA collaboration and with the support of the Ministry of Health (MoHCDGEC), organised a cervical cancer screening and treatment training this week for 20 health care practitioners in Kagera Region, Tanzania. 

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease yet it is the second most common cancer among women worldwide. 87% of deaths resulting from cervical cancer occur in low-income countries. Mortality from the disease is especially high in sub-Saharan Africa, with East Africa having the highest incidence rate in the world. In Tanzania, the cervical cancer age-standardised mortality rate is 54 per 100,000 women meaning that cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer and cancer-related death among Tanzanian women. More than 7,300 Tanzanian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and more than half of these women die due to late stage diagnosis.

Pepal collaborates with Roche Pharmaceutica, ICAP Tanzania and the Ministry of Health (MoHCDGEC) to tackle the burden of cervical cancer in Kagera region through the NJIA program. NJIA translates as 'the way' in Swahili, and combines leadership with innovation training. The program aims to develop leaders in the region capable of increasing the numbers of women screened and treated for the disease by piloting innovative ideas. NJIA has been running in Kagera since 2016 and thus far nearly 100 leaders have been trained and 40 ideas piloted. NJIA has contributed to the screening of 63,000 women and treatment of 2,217 VIA positive women with cryotherapy. This remote northwestern region is now the third best region in the country for cervical cancer prevention and treatment indicators after Dar Es Salaam and Dodoma (the country's largest regions).

Pepal is proud to have organised the training of 20 health care practitioners in VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) and cryotherapy this week. In resource-limited settings, this is the WHO recommended procedure for cervical cancer prevention and treatment. The cervix is swabbed with the vinegar, visually inspected by the health care professional and if an abnormality is suspected, treated immediately with non-invasive cryotherapy.

We cannot wait to invite these newly-qualified health care practitioners onto our leadership and innovations programs in the future to increase their capacity to save women's lives!