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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid