Part 3 completed! The CureCervicalCancer team returned to Ethiopia in April 2015, established four CCC “See and Treat” clinics, and trained 26 local healthcare providers. Our trainees became experts in the “See and Treat” procedure and learned how to properly operate these fully sustainable clinics. We look to continue our lasting relationship with Ethiopia.
Per invitation from the Vice Provost, the main clinic was set up in St. Paul’s Hospital, Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC)- the only medical college in the country that is owned and supported by the leadership and financial support of the Minister of Health. Located in Addis Ababa, this clinic will serve to treat thousands of impoverished, urban women who are fighting day and night to find healthcare in an overpopulated city (of over 3 million people!) with a wide income gap. In addition to the main clinic at SPHMMC, we also opened three satellite clinics in the Addis Ababa region at the Folege Meles Health Center, Kolfe Health Center, and Alert Hospital. CureCervicalCancer looks forward serving this region for years to come!
In addition, we traveled to Mekelle, Ethiopia to revisit, resupply, and reeducate our clinic at Ayder Referral Hospital. We were thrilled to find that our CCC nurses, Sarah and Teshay, were masterfully running the clinic, screening and treating patients, and teaching new nurses how to do the procedure.
Before the end of 2013, a small team from Cure Cervical Cancer returned to Ayder Hospital to assess the newly formed clinic’s status, and in order to determine the need for expansion. On that trip we will also indentified the area of Awassa, Ethiopia, as a candidate for a future clinic site. In April 2013 we set off for Mekelle in northern Ethiopia to teach 10 Ethiopian OB/GYNs at the Ayder Referral Hospital how to perform the See and Treat procedure to detect and treat pre-cancerous lesions.
Dr. Patricia Gordon and her associate Dr. Jennifer Lang traveled with a volunteer group of urologists from the Knock Foundation on a journey initially organized by Dr. Susan Blaustein, Director, of the Millennium Cities Initiative at Columbia University.
As importantly as teaching, Dr. Gordon wanted to perform herself as many examinations as possible with her team, Dr. Lang and Jade Singer, PA. She was hoping to see a thousand women. This was Dr. Gordon’s second trip to tackle cervical cancer in Africa. In December, 2012, she traveled with another group of 12 volunteer doctors to an area outside Dakar, Senegal, where she screened close to 500 women and found 65 who tested positive for cervical cancer.
On her April trip to Ethiopia, Dr. Gordon brought with her and donated several sets of equipment to do cryotherapy, the technique which freezes pre-cancerous lesions in a woman’s cervix. Mekelle is in a poor area of Ethiopia where the hospital serves a catchment area with nine million people.
In addition to screening and treating many women in one week there, Dr. Gordon met with hospital administrators and nurses to help them organize a permanent cervical cancer clinic for the hospital which they enthusiastically agreed to do. Her first email from the nurses reported that, after Dr. Gordon had left town, the nurses treated 65 clients, found 8 cases or cervical cancer and performed cryotherapy on 7 of them. They were thrilled to be performing this life-saving activity. As Dr. Gordon said at the end of her visit, “Life is a learning process. I thought we were going to treat women and train doctors, but the most important thing we did was to leave a sustainable clinic.”
Several months of planning and preparation went into this trip, and it was only through the generous contacts and goodwill of the following agencies and individuals that this project was possible: David Grossman (Knock Foundation), Bruce Cohen (United Therapies), and Dr. Susan Blaustein at MCI (Millennium Cities Initiative). MCI had the resources on the ground in Mekelle to introduce us to the hospital doctors. The Mekelle Hospital Director, Dr. Amnauel Haile, and his staff of OB/GYN doctors were excited about the training. The endless hours Bruce Cohen and David Grossman put into the securing the CO2 tanks, land arrangements, and letters from the Ethiopian Health Department allowed the mission to get through customs.
Just before the trip, Dr. Amanuel Haile contacted the team with the following note:
When an individual goes extra miles to serve a certain people far away, that person must have understood how the destiny of human kind is interconnected. Thank you again. We look forward to meeting you and members of the entire team in Mekelle.