Suriname - 2010
Cervical Screening Program Reaches High-Risk Women in Suriname
In the remote areas of Suriname, a screening and early treatment program
funded in part by Alcoa Foundation is helping prevent cervical cancer in
high-risk women who traditionally had little to no access to such services.
The See and Treat Program is being administered by Medische Zending Primary
Health Care Suriname (PHCS), a non-profit foundation that operates 57 medical
clinics in the interior of Suriname. Covering almost 80% of Suriname’s land
surface, the interior is home to 60,000 people scattered in remote and often
poor tribal and indigenous villages.
Research has shown that women belonging to some of the interior’s ethnic
groups, particularly Marroon and Amerindian, are at higher risk of developing
cancer of the cervix. While access to cervical screening is extremely limited in
the country overall, it was almost non-existent in the interior. Women in this
region who did undergo screening via a medical doctor and tested positive had to
find their own way to specialists located in the country’s coastal regions.
“The goal of our See and Treat Program is to train and equip a team of
workers at our clinics in the interior to participate in the prevention of
cervical cancer and provide early treatment and other services,” said Chiquita
Vinkwolk, manager of community and public relations for Medische Zending PHCS.
Under the program, trained health care workers visually screen for cervical
cancer. Patients with a positive diagnosis receive immediate treatment via
cryotherapy, which uses extremely cold nitrogen or argon gas to freeze and
destroy diseased tissue and tumors. Those who cannot be treated with cryotherapy
are referred to a gynecologist at a hospital in the capital city of Paramaribo
for further treatment, which is paid for by the health care system.
Of the 316 women who received examinations in 2009, 2% had positive results
and received treatment. The women who tested negative will be screened again in
two years and then annually thereafter.
The long-term goal is to implement the program at all of Medische Zending
PHCS’ 57 interior clinics. Promotional activities will support the rollout in
each community to create awareness about the risks of cervical cancer and the
availability of screening services.