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Country activities

Cervical cancer in developing countries

Country activities - Cameroon

Previous and ongoing cooperations in Cameroon which have led to the project : Promoting Comprehensive Cervical Cancer Prevention and Better Women Health in Medium and Low-Ressource Settings

Pr Fritz Baumann

With the purpose to fight cervical cancer, a major health problem  in Cameroon, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) examined in 2001, together with three Cameroonian doctors, two pathologists and one gynecologist (who had previously been trained in Geneva), the feasibility of cytology-based cancer screening in a rural area of Cameroon. Seven years later the project was revived by Pr Patrick Petignat (HUG) and Dr Pierre-Marie Tebeu (University Hospital Center in Yaoundé), supported by the National Committee for the Fight against Cancer in Cameroon and the Ministry of Public Health. In a first move, an inventory of the knowledge concerning cervical cancer among women and health professionals was established by two students from Geneva (working for their Master thesis) under the guidance of Dr Tebeu. This study (published) was completed the following year by two further Master students from Geneva who assessed the acceptance among women of testing for the human papilloma virus (HPV), a key co-factor of cervical cancer) by two different procedures: self-sampling by the woman herself, or sampling by a health professional. The work (published) revealed the wide acceptance of self-sampling and the importance of a proper information of women before the procedure.

Zacharie SandoGregory Halle

Since 2010 the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics (HUG) also organizes, with a growing success, workshops with their Cameroonian partners on: prevention and screening of cervical cancer, colposcopy, management of pre-invasive lesions and vaccination against HPV.

The region of Cameroon (Department of Méfou-Afamba), where the project for the promotion of cervical cancer prevention is planned to take place in 2016, has a long standing relationship with Switzerland. Indeed, this Department is the center of a cooperation, initiated in 1992, between the Canton of Jura and the Republic of Cameroon, whose goal was the implementation of a programme of primary health care in accordance with the health-policy of the Cameroonian Ministry of Public Health. This cooperation « Cameroun-Jura-Suisse » was planned and first led by a Swiss MD, Dr. Brigitte Braendli, and is now (since 1998) under the guidance of a Cameroonian MD, Dr Engelbert Manga, trained in public health in Geneva. Many achievements of the Cooperation « Cameroon-Jura-Suisse » deserve mention: an active participation of the community in health activities, training of health professionals in community medicine, improvement of the medical infrastructure, establishment and use of diagnostic and therapeutic guidelines, organization of a financial management system; these actions resulted in a solid and stable local public health expertise for the benefit of the community.

A substantial contribution to the success of the Cooperation « Cameroun-Jura-Suisse » was made by the medical Faculty and the University Hospitals of Geneva who trained Cameroonian doctors in public health and medical specialties defined by the Ministry of public health according to its needs. On the other hand « Cameroon-Jura-Suisse », since its beginning, allows medical students from Geneva, in their last year of formation, to be trained in tropical and community medicine by the Cameroonian health personnel.

To sum up, we feel that our past and present experience relying on an equilibrated partnership with a sub-Saharan African country makes us well endowed to successfully undertake the intended programme on cervical cancer prevention by HPV screening.

Jura-Cameroun-Suisse Cooperation located in Mefou