Salford and Oslo students join forces to tackle cervical cancer in Uganda

Categories: School of Health and Society

Students from Oslo Metropolitan University were at the University of Salford last week presenting their work from spending time on placement with Knowledge For Change in Uganda.

The Oslo students shared their experiences with second-year social policy students, who will also have the opportunity to undertake the placement as part of their studies.

During the placement, students joined teams from Salford, Knowledge For Change and local healthcare practitioners out in Fort Portal, Uganda, to help raise awareness of cervical cancer and encourage people to attend screenings. The Cervical Screen-and-Treat project is a joint initiative between the University of Salford and Knowledge For Change (a UK-registered charity).

The students visited homes to carry out an initial survey, determining if people were eligible for screening. This was mapped using mobile phones, meaning that data could be captured on which areas they had visited during the project.

During the visits, students focussed on spreading info by word of mouth and helping bust myths and address concerns which had spread in the community. For instance, they found that some women were worried they might catch cancer if they went for a screening. They were able to reassure the women that cancer wasn’t infectious, but also change the process at the clinic to use disposable plastic equipment rather than reusable metal – although this is less environmentally friendly, the team found it had a big impact in reassuring patients that the equipment was sterile and safe.

The students also worked with local midwives to create a radio message which was broadcast in English and the local language, Retoro, to help inform people. Radio is one of the main forms of communication in Uganda and having a midwife from the clinic speak on the radio helped build familiarity and put people at ease.

Following the message being broadcast, the number of women attending the clinic doubled.

The door-to-door survey and awareness raising managed by Knowledge For Change has now contacted over 8,000 local women.

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