Esther Mecha, 29, tested positive for abnormal cells but received treatment the same day to prevent cervical cancer.

Saving lives through early detection and treatment

  • Nov 1, 2013

IMA World Health/April McCoy

In addition to being a wife and the mother of two young children, Esther Mecha, 29, owns a hardware shop in Tarime in the Mara Region of Tanzania, near the Kenyan border.

Due to the growing need for cervical cancer screening and treatment in rural areas of Tanzania, IMA engages in outreach activities to provide these services at smaller hospitals at the community level.

On June 6, 2013, IMA World Health conducted an outreach screening at the Tarime District Hospital, where HIV testing as well as cervical cancer screening and treatment were provided.

This outreach screening was originally scheduled for two days for an anticipated 150 women, but the turnout was so great the event was extended to three days and a total of 560 women were screened. Of the 560 women screened:

  • 23 were HIV+
  • 15 were VIA+ (tested positive for pre-cancerous cells)
  • Of the 15 that were VIA+, 4 were HIV+

Esther heard about this outreach event from an announcement at her church. Though she’d had an HIV test just a few weeks before, she felt it was important to be screened for cervical cancer – and today, she is glad she did.

Esther was one of the 15 women diagnosed VIA+, and she received cryotherapy immediately to treat the abnormal cells. Though she was distressed to have tested positive, Esther said she was glad she attended the outreach event and that she was able to be treated right away. She told IMA staff, “If I wouldn’t have come in today, in three to five years I could have developed cervical cancer.”

Esther admitted she was nervous before the screening and that the procedure was “a little painful but bearable.”

When asked if she would vaccinate her daughter for cervical cancer, she replied, “Yes, because it’s better to have prevention early than do screening later and not be sure if its cancer.”

Esther also brought two women from her town with her to the screening event so they could be screened for cervical cancer.

When asked her thoughts on the screening being offered so close to her home Esther commented, “I appreciate that IMA has brought this free service to the hospital because most screenings cost [a lot]. I encourage more mothers to come and get screened because it is free. We need this service.”