Free Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program for all! (contd.) | Milaap

Free Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program for all! (contd.)

Zivame, the famous online lingerie brand, wished for and funded the organisation of a Breast and Cervical Cancer Awareness and Screening Program, in collaboration with Milaap. Milaap picked Gramalaya Microfin Foundation (GMF), one of their field partners working out of rural Tiruchirappalli to do the noble deed of mobilizing villagers, borrowers of their microcredit, to be the beneficiaries of the generous program. The program was extended over a period of five days in five different locations, covering all the local branches of GMF across the district.GMF approached Harshmitra, a famous hospital in Trichy, to conduct the camp. Harshmitra, on its own, was also organizing free sampling camp at the hospital throughout this month, October being Cancer Awareness month. Apart from that, they'd been organising similar camps sponsored by different educational institutions covering various areas. Rose Garden, a nursing institution exclusively training students in cervix sample examination procedure to detect the presence of cancerous cells, worked in collboration with the hospital at all the venues to assist them in the sampling procedure. [caption id="attachment_5912" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Musiri, third day of the camp at Musiri, third day of the camp[/caption]The first day of the program was at the Training Centre of Gramalaya, the parent organization of GMF, at Kollakudipatti, some 50 kms off Trichy city. The expected turnout was 200 women, though, only 70 of them ended up coming. When we enquired around to figure out the reason for the shortfall from the expected response we found out that the Government Hospitals here have been hosting similar awareness and sampling camps covering all the village Panchayats in and around Trichy district. A lot of the women who had come had already got themselves tested at such camps. They told me that whenever someone would visit the Government Hospitals for any personal reason, the hospital staff members would ask them their age and if they are over thirty years, they'd convince them to get themselves checked for cervical cancer. We also observed that there is widespread fear associated with getting themselves checked. The doctors at the Government Hospitals were, apparently, harsh in handling the patients. As a result, a lot of them were scared of being touched by the doctors. Some of them were also shy of baring their breasts and genitalia for the purpose of collecting samples. Most of the women also didn't seem to be aware of the possibility of acquiring such cancers. Even if they had heard of it, they believed they wouldn't face such problems. They said they'd much rather live in denial of it for as long as they can. Also, many had come thinking this was a general check-up camp where they'd test for sugar level in the blood, cholesterol etc.IMG_1819The fourth (Valayapatti) and fifth (Thuraiyur) day of the camp also saw similar turnouts as those areas were also village panchayats. The second (Trichy) and third (Musiri) day saw much better responses as these were Town Panchayats, areas the Government hospitals had not yet covered. Musiri branch managed to gather a whooping figure of 260 women. The camp would have been a great success had it been organised on the weekend. Most of these women in the target group are daily wage labourers, tailors, farmers or have their own small scale businesses. So, if they come off to attend such a camp they'd miss out on that day's wages, which is a big loss to them. This was also a huge part of their hesitation. Those who were found to have certain complications and needed further tests to be done were handed out discount cards to be availed at Harshmitra.IMG_1842Over all, the camp was certainly a success. It managed to generate a lot of awareness amongst the villagers. They were all happy with the initiative, especially since it was free of cost. They expressed their heartfelt gratitude towards Zivame and Milaap.