Can tele-health increase screening rates for Cervical Cancer in Kenya?
On World AIDS Day, 2017 – SPIDER launched the third needs assessment report of the Telehealth for cervical cancer screening and care project.
The place of study was Western Kenya, a region with the highest HIV prevalence in Kenya and also a high HIV cervical cancer co-morbidity.
Early detection of cervical cancer is one of the best ways to ensure successful treatment. Yet only 3.2% of Kenyan women aged 16-68 were screened for cervical cancer in 2012. HIV infection increases the risk of cervical cancer, making it even more important to screen for early detection to improve the chances of successful treatment.
The SPIDER project Telehealth for Cervical Cancer Screening and Care investigated stakeholder views on the prospect of telehealth in cervical cancer screening and care in Zambia, Rwanda and Kenya. This third report completes the study.
Kenya is positive to telehealth. There is a national policy and strategy for using ICTs to improve healthcare in Kenya and county level policies are under development. Health care workers are already using ICTs to share information, mostly through informal channels, for example WhatsApp.
Participants were positive to using telehealth for cervical cancer screening and care. Solutions were seen as a way to improve service delivery and ensure quick access to both screening and care if diagnosed with cervical cancer. Telehealth could also improve patient follow up throughout the Kenyan health care system and be used to overcome the shortage of specialists. It was also seen as a way to both capacity build and empower health care workers.
Concerns raised related to costs: both the cost of a solution to be used by the health care system, and the cost for the individual accessing the care. The risk of corruption meaning that charges may differ for patients was another concern of the participants.
The need to raise awareness on the importance of screening and to remove stigma related to a cervical cancer diagnosis was another matter of great importance. The very low screening rates of eligible women shows that this needs to be addressed.