News / Health

Simple Cancer Test Saves Lives in Burkina Faso

FILE - Women wait outside the workroom of the Multi-functional Platform for Poverty Alleviation in the village of Poa near Ougadougou in Burkina Faso.
FILE - Women wait outside the workroom of the Multi-functional Platform for Poverty Alleviation in the village of Poa near Ougadougou in Burkina Faso.
Jennifer Lazuta
Doctors in Burkina Faso are using a simple and low-cost method to detect cervical cancer at clinics throughout the country.  Doctors say that the test, which uses plain, white vinegar, can save thousands of lives each year.

Dr. Yacouba Ouedraogo runs the cervical cancer prevention program at the Jhpiego clinic in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.

He says that cervical cancer has become the most common type of cancer in women in Burkina Faso, but the means of treating it are extremely limited.  He says detecting and treating cervical cancer in its early stages has recently become much easier.

Doctors there are taking a cotton swab dipped in distilled white vinegar - the kind you buy in any market in Africa - and then rubbing it on the opening of a woman’s uterus, which is called the cervix.  Once the vinegar is applied, any pre-cancerous or cancerous cells will turn white.

Dr. Stanislas Paul Nebie has been using the vinegar test on his patients since 2010.

He says that unlike other tests, which are expensive and time-consuming, and require sending cell samples to a lab, sometimes overseas, the vinegar test is very simple. He says doctors can see any abnormal lesions immediately.  He says that if the vinegar detects pre-cancerous cells, they can be treated during the same visit using a cryogenic freezing technique.

At this clinic in Ouagadougou, women pay just $4 for the test and follow-up treatment if abnormal cells need to be frozen off.

Dr. Nebie says this is a bargain considering the high cost of radiology or surgery if the cancer is not caught early.  He said health clinics, even in the most remote villages, can and are performing the vinegar test and referring patients for treatment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says cervical cancer kills 250,000 women worldwide each year and four out of five of those women are in low-income countries, like Burkina Faso.

Cervical cancer tends to be asymptomatic until its in advanced stages when it is more difficult to treat.  Women simply do not know they have it, sometimes until it is too late.  That is why in developed countries like the United States, women go for annual routine screenings called PAP smears.

Burkina Faso does not yet have statistics on how many lives the vinegar test has saved.  However, doctors in India announced at an international conference this year that using the vinegar test had cut cervical cancer deaths by 31 percent in a study there involving 150,000 women.

Dr. Nebie says this test saves lives but only if women come in for routine check-ups - something that many are not used to doing.

He says that cervical cancer continues to kill women because many of them don't know that it is a real problem.  He says there's not even a word for it in our local language.  He says it is very challenging when you go to a village and try to convince a woman - a woman who doesn't feel sick - to pay for a test for a disease she doesn't know exists.

Still, the doctors say that one day, they hope the vinegar test will help them bring the number of cervical cancer deaths to zero.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid