Training Spotlight: Fighting Cancer at the Local Level

In the small town of Webuye near the Uganda border, you won’t find a doctor specializing in cancer. But thanks to a recent training by the AMPATH Oncology team, you will find community leaders empowered to do all they can to improve access to cancer screenings.

On July 31, 2018, AMPATH’s oncology team facilitated an educational event for Webuye’s local leadership including 9 chiefs, 18 assistant chiefs, 14 village elders and 5 community health volunteers, along with Webuye hospital management.

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The AMPATH Oncology team shared information about common types of cancer and prevention methods. Cervical and breast cancers received a special focus as the most prevalent cancers affecting Kenyan women. Following the training, community leaders promised to ensure that all persons within their catchment areas receive this empowering information.

“Screening is so important for early detection and treatment of pre-cancers," says Doris Wekesa from Webuye. Doris was taking herbal medicines for pelvic pain, but decided to be screened for cervical cancer following a similar AMPATH training in June. After discovering cancerous cells, a radical hysterectomy saved Doris’ life.

Community education events are just one example of AMPATH Oncology’s growing training programs offered for communities and medical professionals. More than 85,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer and 20,000 for breast cancer because of community outreach efforts, training, and access to screenings.

AMPATH’s connection to Webuye leadership initially began in 2016 when Eli Lilly volunteer Dyron Howell formed a bond with Webuye’s Chief Paul. When Dyron returned again in 2018 with Lilly’s Connecting Hearts Abroad program, he again met Chief Paul who requested to learn more about cancer.  AMPATH’s oncology team then worked to implement a training program for the Webuye community.

AMPATH Oncology recently launched a new breast and cervical cancer control program with support from Eli Lilly and Company that will screen 200,000 women for breast or cervical cancers over the next five years.

As thousands of Kenyans gain access to cancer education and screenings, they become cancer prevention advocates like Doris who shares, “I promise to be on the forefront of encouraging all women to go for cervical cancer screenings!”

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