We have a huge problem in developing countries. That problem is HPV in women and its development into cervical cancer. The death rate of cervical cancer is the highest amongst women in developing countries.
In South Africa for example, men still receive more favour when it comes to education and literacy, as well as employment and financial standing according to 2014 stats. However, it is common knowledge that women form the backbone of most societies. Without a healthy female core, the social, as well as economic growth of a country will dramatically decline.
Leading solar and renewable energy development company, SunEdison, recognised this and in 2015 decided to take action with the help of UDoTests rural solution which helps educate, detect, care for and manage the treatment of HPV in women.
"By caring for the health of the mothers, wives, sisters, aunties and grannies in our communities, we are able to give something meaningful back to our valued local entrepreneurs, workforce and country," says Andrew Johnson, head of services.
"As the town of Boshof falls within the immediate community surrounding our Boshof Solar Park, in the Free State, it made perfect sense to stage a wellness campaign there," comments Johnson. "We partnered with UDoTest, a South African company comprising a team of young professionals who have a keen interest in the growing prevalence of cervical cancer in South Africa, as well as other diseases."
400 women living in the community between the ages of 30 and 70 requested to participate in the campaign. The response was overwhelming and far more participants arrived than expected. Of the 250 women who were eligible to be screened using the self-sample UDoHPVTest for cervical cancer risks, 62 are received follow-ups and/or treatment. Many of these women had never had a Pap smear before and didn't know what a Pap smear was.
"To say that we were pleased with the outcome would be a complete understatement. It was incredible to see how young and old women wanted to get involved and learn as much as they could about the screening process and about HPV. The thirst for knowledge was enormous and the gratitude and excitement, palpable." says Allison Martin from UDoTest.
UDoTest not only benefits the individual, private and public companies, but is set to also benefit the South African economy as a whole. The UDoTest mobile wellness platform is able to service the rural areas and reach the people who need access to healthcare the most. "This sustainable screening program and service for communities, coupled with patient counselling and support, as well as effective reporting, is a necessity for our women, our workforce and our country," says Allison Martin.
"To save a mother is to save a family and a community." The innovative, unique and highly accurate method of do-it-yourself pathology testing and collection, is the first of its kind in many countries. "The UDoHPVTest is more accurate than a traditional Pap smear in detecting cervical cancer risks," says Martin. "The essence to our tests lies in the back-end technology which ensures smarter and less frequent testing."
In any country, a successful and optimally functioning population-based screening programme for cervical cancer, would require significant resources and effort. Appropriately equipped and staffed facilities, for both diagnosis and treatment, are essential. The population also needs to be informed of the necessity for screening. Many women in rural communities are minimally literate and have little knowledge about cervical cancer and the tests to screen for it.
Adequate communication channels to inform women about abnormal test results and timing of follow-up screening tests are also crucial to ensure proper functioning of a formal population-based screening programme. The majority of South African women are not easily contactable or accessible by the postal services to receive test result.
UDoTests system and service was able to address this and successfully change the lives of these women.