Monday, November 7, 2011

San Salvador

Saturday, 5 Nov 2011, by Kay Taylor, MD
Today we completed a terrific training week in cooperation with the El Salvador Ministry of Health. We have been working to train and certify teachers, who are already performing screening and treatment for cervical dysplasia in 5 health centers in the huge San Salvador metropolitan area. Each day, we drove for half an hour or more to a different clinic, some associated with hospitals. Our team of gynecologists, nurse practitioners and support people included two mid-teen girls, one of whom had her 14th birthday on Thursday. She received ice cream and cake from the health center with a lovely party after work was finished, then more ice-cream cake at dinner followed by singing and dancing at a local restaurant. She looked so cute in a huge caballero sombrero, with the MC leading singing of 'Felicidades' and Happy Birthday! They've been a great help, sorting charts and stocking exam rooms for us.

The rest of the team was kept very busy, teaching and proctoring examinations for 15 doctors, 4 gynecologists, and 25 nurse specialists, all of whom are in various stages of training, from just beginning to training their colleagues. We have certified 2 more gynecologists in all procedures, as well as 4 other doctors as trainers for examination and cryotherapy, and several more doctors and nurses certified to perform these techniques in their health centers. How proud they are of their certificates! The trainers will hold another training session in 3 months, so when we return, the remainder of these students should be ready for certification. There are 41 health centers in the metropolitan area. Now, 5 of them are equipped to perform treatments, and 14 to do screening and referrals. We hope to have this densely populated part of the public health system completely covered after May's visit!

We also trained 5 community health workers who lead health education efforts in the use of our new flipbooks for teaching women about their bodies and cancer prevention. They were very enthusiastic about the flipbooks we gave them, and are going to field-test them and train others with them. We'll get their feedback in May. We are told that only 1/3 of women have had cervical screening more than one time, because of lack of education as much as lack of opportunity. We hope to help change that!

Tired but satisfied, our team will be celebrating tonight with the Salvadoreans. Today is the 200th anniversary of their independence from Spain and Mexico, and the streets will be filled with music, dancing and fireworks. We really feel a part of their celebrations today!

(To watch Dr. Eve Yalom interview a patient that was treated by the PINCC team CLICK HERE)

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