Pilot Study: Use of mSaada Application to Address Cervical Cancer in Kenya

Pilot Study: Use of mSaada Application to Address Cervical Cancer in Kenya

Article by: Emmy Duerr At the DGRH Think Global Talk on October 15, Jacob Stocks presented his work on the mSaada mobile application platform. Prior to his pilot study, Stocks developed mSaada (meaning “support” in Swahili), an application designed to be a support tool for community-based cervical cancer screening for low-income communities. The app was intended to provide counseling/decision support for community health volunteers as well as patient and specimen tracking to better ensure follow up and patient retention. Stocks implemented a small (n = 19) 5-week pilot study in Migori and Kisumu between July and August of 2019. The pilot study consisted of six iterative feedback sessions with the goal of refining the mSaada platform. The first week of the study involved three group sessions with four participants in each session, using a mixed methods approach of a combination of qualitative in-depth interviews and quantitative usability surveys. Weeks 2-4 provided app developers time for feedback integration, and allowed them to implement...
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HPV Vaccine Launch in Kisumu, Kenya

HPV Vaccine Launch in Kisumu, Kenya

Article by: Sandra Y. Oketch The launch of the HPV vaccination into the routine immunization schedule available for all 10-year old girls from September 2019 onward is a great milestone for Kenya. The Kisumu County launched the HPV vaccine Program on October 25th, 2019 at the Kisumu County Referral Hospital, accompanied by several activities such as HPV health information, speeches and educational entertainment. The Chief Guest of honor was Dr. Dickens Onyang, the Kisumu County Director of Health Services. Onyango voiced that the vaccine has been successfully included in the healthcare cascade of all Government of Kenya health facilities, and that the Ministry of Health will work hand in hand with the Ministry of Education and all other partners to ensure an effective and efficient implementation of the program. He reiterated the benefits of the launch stating, “The HPV vaccine is the silver bullet to prevention of cervical cancer that will greatly reduce the cervical cancer burden as has been in the 115...
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Lancet Publishes New Study on Caesarean Procedures in LMICs

Lancet Publishes New Study on Caesarean Procedures in LMICs

Article by Jackie Vicksman In March 2019, the Lancet published a study titled “Maternal and perinatal mortality and complications associated with caesarean section in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” In one of the most comprehensive studies to date, a research group from the Queen Mary University of London found that a “disproportionately high” number of women in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) are dying due to caesarean sections, especially in Sub-Saharan countries. The mortality rate was 7.6 out of 1000 women who had the procedure and in Sub-Saharan countries the number rose to 10.9/1000. The study used a systematic review of online databases and analyzed information from 196 studies in 67 LMICs. The study found that risks arise when the procedure is not preceded by quality antenatal care, delayed during obstructed labor, or not considered for at-risk women until complications arise. The biggest risk was for women receiving emergency c-sections in the second stage of labor. In...
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UK’s Commitment towards Global Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Article by Ramya Ginjupalli During the UN General Assembly on Universal Health Coverage, the UK’s International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, pledged £600 million towards a “Reproductive Health Supplies programme” between 2020-20251. This program aims to provide up to 20 million women and girls with family planning services including the contraceptive pill, condoms, and safe abortions2. In addition, this program aims to prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, prevent over a million of unsafe abortions, and save thousands of women’s lives3. This commitment is in the wake of President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City policy, also known as the “Global Gag Rule”2. With new restrictions, this policy affects an additional $8 billion of United States’ aid2. According to a leaked letter, the United States also encouraged UN member states with a pro-life stance to join a coalition against the promotion of abortion in the United Nations2. In response to this, Mr. Sharma gave a speech renewing the UK’s commitment towards Universal Health...
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Northern Ireland Makes Progress in Reproductive Rights

Northern Ireland Makes Progress in Reproductive Rights

Article by Jackie Vicksman After criminalizing abortion for more than a century, Northern Ireland has finally reached a breakthrough. Although the rest of the United Kingdom legalized abortion in the 1967 Abortion Act and the Republic of Ireland repealed its restrictive abortion laws in September of 2018, these laws did not extend to Northern Ireland, which maintained its extremely strict policies. Until now. Beginning October 22 of this year, women in Northern Ireland may be given the right to have an abortion in certain circumstances. This possibility is due to the fact that Northern Ireland has not had a functioning government for the past two years because of partisan conflict between Unionists and Republicans, as both parties have an agreement to share power equally in the country. As a result, the U.K. was able to sign an amendment that decriminalizes abortion in the region. The amendment will go into effect on October 21 if the government of Northern Ireland has not...
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Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Last week, an abortion-rights bill targeted at public universities in California was passed inspired by a student-led movement at the University of California, Berkeley. If signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the next month, this legislation would mandate all on-campus health centers of California public universities to offer medication abortion by 2023. In the state of California, this legislation would therefore directly apply to 34 college campuses. Medication abortion requires taking two different pills which are approved by law to end pregnancy during the first 10 weeks. There have already been around $10.3 million dollars of donations raised privately that would go toward training staff at campus health centers and equipping the centers with proper medical devices for medication abortion. A study published in August 2018 directly analyzed California college students desire and access to medication abortion and concluded, “College students face cost, scheduling, and travel barriers to abortion care. Offering medication abortion on campus could reduce these...
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Links Between Hormone Replacement Therapies and Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

Links Between Hormone Replacement Therapies and Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

Hormone replacement therapies (HRT) are often prescribed to women facing menopause to help relieve harsh symptoms like hot flashes and dryness. The transition of menopause often begins for women around the ages 45 and 55 and is caused by a shift in the body’s sex hormone production. Estrogen and progesterone are two of the most commonly used hormones and there are currently around 12 million users of HRT. A study recently published in the journal The Lancet based on an analysis of data from 58 other studies on HRT, revealed that the longer a woman uses HRT, the greater the risk she has of developing breast cancer. It also concluded that in comparison to women who use estrogen-only hormone therapies, women who use estrogen-progestogen hormone therapies have greater risks for breast cancer. This research is important for both doctors and women to take into consideration before deciding to begin hormone replacement therapy and Dr. Janice Rymer, gynecologist and vice president...
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Federal Funded Family Planning Program New Rule

Federal Funded Family Planning Program New Rule

Title X is a federally funded family planning program for birth control and reproductive healthcare and it is particularly aimed at people with low incomes. Enacted in 1970 as part of the Public Health Service Act, Title X helps more than 4 million Americans each year. Under the Trump administration, a new rule would mandate providers receiving Title X funds to be separate from any providers that perform or refer to abortions. In regards to Planned Parenthood, this rule would prohibit all Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving Title X funds if any Planned Parenthood health center counseled on abortions or performed abortions. Legal challenges to this rule have led to injunctions; however, Planned Parenthood released a statement saying it will formally withdraw from the Title X program on August 19 unless a federal court intervenes. Officials from Planned Parenthood believe it is wrong to keep complete medical abortion information from clients, which the rule would require, and acting president...
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Three Ground-Breaking HIV Studies

Three Ground-Breaking HIV Studies

Three ground-breaking studies published in the New England Journal a few weeks ago reveal the benefits of door-to-door health workers, mobile clinics, and whole community testing in reducing the rate of new HIV infections in African Countries. The first study, the Ya T’sie trial, provided HIV testing, linkage to care, and early antiretroviral treatment to communities of Botswana; the second study, Search, focused on universal HIV treatment for communities in Uganda and Kenya; and the third study, PopART, implemented combination prevention intervention with ART in communities of Zambia and South Africa. The conclusion of these workings points to a 30 percent decrease in HIV incidence proving the success of these testing and treatment efforts. The key to the success is the idea of the “warm handoff” implemented in all three studies in which the health care workers ensured anyone who tested positive for HIV followed up at a clinic and did not forget. These studies are so important considering that...
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The Trump Administration’s Domestic Gag Rule

Since running for President and into his presidency, Donald Trump and his Administration have sought to undermine women’s access to reproductive health care. Last year, the Trump Administration proposed changes to Title X—which is federal grant program that provides funding for comprehensive family planning services. Known as the “domestic gag rule,” the proposed changes “gag” or bar healthcare providers from referring their patients to abortion providers. Moreover, the rule would drastically alter access to reproductive health care, including birth control and other family planning services, for millions of women who depend on Title X funded clinics. When the Administration released the final version of the rule changes, reproductive health organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association immediately challenged the rule. Despite a preliminary injunction that prevented the rule’s implementation, on July 3, a panel of three judges lifted the injunction. Devastatingly, last week by 7-4...
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