We are back for another day of screenings at the St. Louis Regional hospital.
Today began with a presentation by Youxiang Wang about the Atila Biosystems Ampfire HPV testing unit and the benefits of early detection with HPV. Providing this technology enables this hospital to screen, see results and treat on a timely basis. This has never been done in Senegal before.
Our trip has been running smoothly except yesterday there was one glitch. The Ampfire HPV machine that had been sent to Senegal had arrived but it had been stuck in customs for three weeks. Senegal time moves a little slower than regular time but this was really slow!! Dr. Faye, who lives in Dakar, was finally able to free it and then bring it to St. Louis The good news is that Dr. Wang and Dr. Chen will be able to train the lab technicians on how to use the equipment so that the hospital can screen many more women and get the results quickly, reliably and inexpensively.
One of the women who tested positive yesterday came back today for thermo-ablation. This is a procedure that destroys the abnormal cells using heat and thus prevents the development of cancer. If she was not treated, chances are that those cells, over time, could develop into cancer. The good news is that she will come back in a year to be checked and in most cases, she will be ok.
Today we are seeing more positive results and treating them. Again, because GoDocGo has donated the equipment, we are able to treat these positive results while the women are here. I continue to be impressed by the work and mindfulness of the midwives. They are businesslike, kind, smart, funny and warm, all rolled into one. Really amazing people. It has the feel of a medical carnival. I feel lucky to be able to be a fly on the wall here in the exam room. I am getting a firsthand glimpse into another culture that I would not be able get in most cases, certainly not in the United States.
What is also amazing, is that the screenings and the procedures that the women are receiving are free. Again, this goes back to the money that GoDocGo raises to be able to buy equipment and supplies and bring them with us when we come. It also happens because GoDocGo trains the doctors and mid-wives how to use the equipment so that screenings and care can continue when we are not here.
Our work in St. Louis is done and tomorrow we head back to Dakar. Some of us will head home to New York and some for a quick trip to Paris on the way home. For Maggie and Pat and the the team from Atila, they will head to the Gambia where they will do screenings, trainings and delivering another Ampfire HPV tasing unit to the hospital.