MMI Awarded Stronger Together 2017 Grant

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Cervical Cancer Screening on the Amazon River Utilizing New Canadian Technology: $75,000

To pilot HPV screening for women in remote communities along the Colombian Amazon and tributaries using new Canadian medical technology.

MMI Amazon will develop a pilot project to screen 500 women from up to 20 villages along 140 kilometres of the Amazon, Loretoyacu, and Atacuary Rivers between Ronda and San Pedro de Tipisca in the remote Colombian Amazon Region. MMI Amazon is currently the only provider of health care services to these villages home to three indigenous tribes: Ticuna, Cocama, and Yagua. MMI Amazon is making regular visits to these villages with their local staff and also host MMI medical project teams to support their efforts. 

To facilitate the technical screening involved, MMI will partner with a new Canadian start-up company, Eve Medical. Eve Medical has recently received approval to sell its Eve Kit in Canada to increase screening rates among Canadian women and reduce existing barriers for women by providing an at home screening method for Canadian women. The HerSwabTM device works similarly to insertion of a tampon. The founder of Eve Medical is excited to make her device available at their production cost for use in this screening program. By utilizing this newest form of technology, designed and manufactured in Canada, and bringing it to remote regions of the Amazon, MMI will be providing a level of care available only to the affluent in Colombia who would be accessing Pap Smears performed by a medical professional at a clinic. Once collected, samples will be transported to a lab for HPV and STI testing in Bogota, Colombia.  Results will be collected and tracked by MMI Amazon staff.

The anticipated 100 women with positive HPV results will be transported and connected to a follow-up program executed by Dr. Gutierrez, the gynaecologist at the MMI partner health center, Clinica Leticia. Dr. Javier holds a Masters in Epidemiology and has 20 years experience in the Amazon. Each woman will receive additional diagnostic care, specialized treatment, and if necessary, surgery and cancer treatment. The cost of treatment provided by Clinica Leticia will be government-funded. MMI Amazon has successfully bridged this gap in the Colombian health care system by identifying patients on MMI medical teams who required advanced follow up from Clinica Leticia.

Given the positive reputation of MMI Amazon in these communities, this screening program is a timely and relevant use of innovative technology and delivery methods to identify up to 100 women in the remote Amazon who have a 25% chance of carrying high risk HPV strains which often lead to the most frequent cancer in their population. By testing for common STIs, MMI will also identify and ensure treatment for women who may experience infertility, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, preterm delivery, or health risks for their newborns.

With education and ongoing preventative care, the population of approximately 8,000 will benefit from the pilot project. Cultural changes take time. However, with a preventative health plan, screening, and follow-up, a reduced incidence of advanced intervention is possible. MMI believes in its Integrated Health Program which incorporates preventative health education and spiritual teaching to care for the whole person. Each woman participating in this screening program will be shown the love and grace of God by the MMI Amazon teams.

Thank you to the partnering foundations of Stronger Together for making this initiative possible with your grant of $75,000.