Women in Kisumu and Siaya counties are set to benefit from a
new mobile device for cervical cancer screening.  The Enhanced Visual Assessment (EVA) System
was launched at a Kisumu hotel mid-last week during a training of health
workers from selected hospitals in the two counties supported by Matibabu
Foundation Kenya, a local organization that partners with government health
facilities in various reproductive health programs. 

The EVA system looks like a handheld scanner and comprises a
mobile colposcope with a smartphone mounted on it. It also has an online image
portal for storing and annotating images. 
The devices use an app that stores patients’ details on the mobile
phone. During screening the device captures and uploads images of the cervix to
the image portal. A patient is able to view the image of her cervix as the
nurse explains the results. If abnormalities in cervical cells are detected,
the health provider is at discretion to either treat or refer to a specialist.
Information on diagnoses and treatments including other clinical decisions
about a patient are stored in the device, hence making it double as a health
record. This can also be shared real-time with specialists or referral
facilities.

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The device is also connected to a central website where
images are analyzed and explanations are given on how to improve diagnosis and
treatment. Patients’ information is however encrypted and only available to
health providers with access to the server.

Cervical cancer, unlike other forms of cancer, can be
prevented if the abnormal cells around the cervix clinically referred to as
precancerous lesions are identified and treated early enough.

Matibabu Foundation Kenya encourages women, particularly
those who are sexually active; to go for screening, especially with the
introduction of the new device so that those with the disease but do not yet
have symptoms can be identified and treated in time.

“Screening is exciting with this new device because women
are able to view their cervix and see what happens in their own bodies,” says
Aaga Mitoko, the Project Coordinator at Matibabu Foundation.

With other screening methods, women are shown wall pictures
that differentiate a normal from an abnormal cervix. This is, however, is too
general and as a departure from it, clients will have the opportunity to view
their own cervix from the images captured, more like taking a selfie hence the
term “cervix selfie” for the EVA device.  

Cervical cancer is generally on the rise and is among the
leading causes of maternal deaths not only in Kenya but also globally. For a
long time, there have been myths surrounding cervical screening, a factor that
has contributed to poor turnout for such procedures.

Lucy Wanyama, the Nursing Officer in charge of Siaya County
Referral Hospital identifies the mismatch between those who come for treatment
when the disease is at advanced stages and those who come for screening.

She says, “People being screened are few. So we realize there’s
a miss.  There’s a gap we’re experiencing
because if we’re not screening all eligible clients we need then we have
clients who come with the diseases at an advanced stage, something that puts us
at a loss.”

The EVA system is developed by an Israeli technology
company, MobileODT.