Inter-Cultur Finland and Strathmore University Kenya experimented with digital technology to sensitize and educate young girls and women on early cervical cancer screening, treatment, and case management.
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for approximately 10 million deaths globally in 2019 and 19.3 million new diagnoses. The global distribution and rising prevalence of cancer show a ‘cancer divide’ where survival rates are low among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations due to weak health systems, poor levels of education, and low awareness and screening coverage. In Kenya, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women but the most common cause of cancer deaths. In 2019, the cervical cancer incidence rate per 100,000 women was 19.4, while the death rate was approximately 3,400, according to the WHO Cervical Cancer Country Profiles. Increased prevention measures would lead to reduced morbidity caused by cervical cancer.
A mobile and web-based cervical cancer patient onboarding, tracking and referral system was developed and tested in Bungoma, Kenya, in partnership with Bungoma County Ministry of Health facilities, Community Health Workers and Kibabii University female Students. The system also sends messages when young girls and women are scheduled for screenings to ensure action by onboarded patients’.
The uptake of the new system by health workers, who were not optimistic about using a system to conduct screening without the use of pen and paper despite it being cumbersome, was initially a challenge. However, the ease of scheduling patients for screening and automated reminder SMSs was a crucial feature in the acceptance of the system.
Over 300 young girls and women were onboarded for screening of cervical cancer using the technology platform by university students, community health workers and nurses who had been trained on use of the technology. Accordingly, the enrolled young girls and women were sensitized and educated on issues relating to Cervical Cancer risks.
Early results show the need to scale this experiment at National Level, in collaboration with Ministry of Health for sustainability.