by Verena Metz Zumarán
Sunday the 11th of November, Paoyhan, Loreto,Perú
Testing for Papanicolaou is very important, as it enables the doctor to diagnose any existent abnormalities in the cells of the cervix. If the abnormalities are not treated in time, they can cause different types of cancer.
Alianza Arkana (AA) was able to persuade the Public Health Authorities to carry out
this Papanicolaou Campaign. The objective was to get all the women of the
community to participate, in order to then be able to treat the women prone to
cervical cancer. This goal has been achieved, due to the great work of the 5
organizers, who convinced a large number of women to undergo the Papanicolaou
The campaign began on Sunday the 11th of November, at 8:30 in the morning, in the medical post of the Paoyhan Community. An obstetrician from the community of Tiruntán carried out the tests in collaboration with Silveria, a Shipibo nurse from AA. Meanwhile, Alianza Arkana organized the preparation of the meals for the involved community members, as well as the transport of the obstetrician from Tiruntán to Paoyhan. I was supporting the organizational part of the campaign and I was present to answer the participants’ questions.
The women of the community arrived little by little to the medical post to take the test during the morning. Usually not many women participate in medical campaigns due to the lack of confidence in the health system, the fear of having an illness or for cultural reasons (relating to machismo for example). Despite this, we are happy to say that there were approximately 35 women participating – exceeding the number of participants from past campaigns. The women were mostly between 18 and 52 years old.
Many women appeared relieved to have taken the test., although a few left with worried faces. The obstetrician was able to diagnose several women with, infections and wounds in the vaginal area. Two of them had to be medicated immediately. Therefore, the obstetrician suggested, on his own initiative, to carry out a Syphilis and HIV campaign as soon as possible and offered his help.
After the campaign, at 12:30, we lunch with the promoters and other community members. Now it is necessary to wait for the results of the tests, which will be sent to Iquitos or Contamana. According to the obstetrician, the results will be delivered in approximately 20 days, although past experience with the laboratories has demonstrated that the waiting time may exceed the 20 days.For example, the results for the campaign held in Bena Jema were delivered 6 to 7 months after the campaign, despite our persistent communication with the hospital. The consequence of this delay is that in that lapse of time the disease or infection can get worse.
Unfortunately, the health system in Peru is inefficient and corrupt. The doctors’ salary is very low, to the point that the nurses of the communities are often on strike and the ill are only attended to in cases of emergencies. This leads to low medical care in hospitals or medical posts, and impedes on the efficiency of medical campaigns.
Despite all the organizational complications, AA has pleased with the outcome of this campaign as there were a high number of participants. Once the diagnoses have been delivered, it will be important to support tho women in need of treatment, answering their questions and accompanying them to the hospital so they can undergo treatment.