In the spring of 2016, Grounds for Health expanded our program into Nyeri County in central Kenya where approximately 53% of the labor force works on coffee farms, tea plantations or in other agricultural industries. Our goal was to start with a small presence and expand our screening services as we trained providers and community health volunteers. But how would we get there?
Fortunately, we hired Evah Maina as our Program Coordinator! A native Kenyan, Evah possesses the professional expertise and local knowledge that could make all the difference. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing and Public Health, a Master’s degree in Public Reproductive Health, and postgraduate diploma in project management. She came to Grounds for Health with seven years’ experience as a nurse and nursing manager with both private and public health facilities and national and international NGOs.
Evah has pretty much singlehandedly expanded our program to three health facilities, increased cervical cancer awareness in partnership with the Mugaga and Rumukia coffee co-ops, and established Grounds for Health as a leader in the quality of its training and its programs. A County Reproductive Health Coordinator who completed the Grounds for Health training recently remarked, “this is the best cervical cancer screening and treatment training I have had so far. I wish all our health care providers could get this opportunity.”
This sentiment is echoed by a Mathira East Subcounty nurse who said, “I wish I can repeat all the cervical cancer screenings I have done on my previous clients, because clearly I have been doing the wrong thing. I wish every health care provider could have this Grounds for Health training because most are like me prior to training”.
For years, Grounds for Health has championed the Single Visit Approach. We were at the vanguard of using Visual Inspection with Ascetic Acid (VIA) for screening and cryotherapy for treatment. Now, we would like to lead the way again with the adoption of HPV testing as a screening method and thermocoagulation for treatment. As Evah points out, “transitioning towards the use of HPV screening, a more accurate screening tool, would be ideal. This is the direction the rest of the world is taking because of its accuracy and the ability to reach more women through a test that can be performed by the women herself without undergoing a complete gynecological exam. We would also like to transition to the use of thermocoagulation for treatment. This method is less expensive in the long run, yet is effective and easy to train.”
She says, “It is an approach we wish to explore and implement as a demonstration project that can then be rolled out with the support and direction from County Health Department.”
Evah continues to advocate for an expanded Kenya program in an effort to provide cervical cancer screening in the more than 100 health facilities in Nyeri County. Evah reminds us that “with adequate funding, our top priority will be to train more health care providers and community health volunteers in new health centers so that more women can be reached.”
Our goal is to help Evah achieve her goal. We hope you will join with us in supporting her efforts.