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Uganda Uses Low-Tech Test for Cervical Cancer

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In 2006, a group of doctors and public health activists belonging to the Uganda Women's Health Initiative started a pilot project in Kampala to screen women for cervical cancer.

The test involved the use of acetic acid or vinegar as the primary active ingredient. This test, which is called visual inspection or "VIA" doesn't need a pathologist, a microscope, or refrigeration of samples. It is pretty simple. A health provider swipes a patient's cervix with acetic acid and then visually inspects the tissue. The tissue will turn white if there are lesions.

This means that treatment for the disease can begin immediately. The treatment is called cryotherapy; it freezes the lesions and treats the disease while it is in its early stages. It destroys the abnormal cells in the cervix that may lead to cancer.

"The visual inspection screening provides midwives and nurses with a more active role in conducting and encouraging screenings within local communities, instead of referring women to distant hospitals," according to Rebecca Harshbarger of Womensenews, from where the information for this article was obtained.

Richard Ndhuhura, the state minister for the Ugandan health department, said that women have been flooding the Kampala clinics to get screened.

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