GoDocGo in Senegal
A week in Senegal with Go Doc Go, founded by Dr. Maggie Carpenter in 2014 and traveling with several volunteer doctors and nurses.
Since it's conception in 2014 this organization has traveled to Senegal, Ethiopia, The Gambia and Haiti 2-5 times a year to train midwives and doctors on how to screen for cervical cancer without the need for expensive pap smears and lab work which is generally unavailable and too expensive if it is. There are higher rates of HPV in these areas which leads to higher rates of cervical cancer, which if caught early is treatable. “One of the things that struck me was how little money was needed to make a dramatic impact on a woman’s health, and how so much of GDG’s resources went directly to patient care. We have the tools to prevent this cancer, so it is shameful that in some areas of the world it is the second most common cancer (causing deaths) among women.” volunteer Dr. Becky TK.
Overall on this trip Go Doc Go screened 240 women over 4 clinics and trained 52 midwives and 4 doctors. They had 8 positives that were immediately treated with thermoablation, had several biopsies taken and no LEEPS were needed. “I felt this trip was very successful and shows that our model of persistence pays off. Talking with the doctors who have started a national group made me realize how many people we have trained, how many hospitals we have supplied and how in some small ways we have helped raise the importance of cervical cancer prevention in Senegal," Go Doc Go founder Dr. Maggie Carpenter.
Not only does Go Doc Go train the staff on how to screen with VIA (Visual Inspection with acetic acid) to detect dysplasia (abnormal changes in the cells on the surface of the cervix) that can lead to cancer of the cervix if not treated; they also provide the HPV tests and all equipment necessary to screen and take care of the abnormal cells with thermoablation, which uses a heated probe tip to the cervix in order to destroy the precancerous cells or a LEEP, which uses a wire loop heated by electric current to remove cells and tissue.
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We saw 91 patients today. “Today was bittersweet. I was happy that many people showed up for the screenings, but it was also emotionally and physically draining/challenging because many women find the test an invasion into their privacy and some are embarrassed and scared of it. And as a clinician you need to help the patient feel comfortable in this awkward situation/position so that the procedure can be less traumatic or comfortable for them. Having to do this for a large number of patients in one day, in a limited space with at least 4 other clinicians, on a hot day with minimum ventilation was emotionally and physically draining. However, the discomfort was worthwhile since everyone was able to be screened and received treatment as needed. So it was a success!” Winnie tk
“My first patient (in Fatick) had an abnormal screening and had to be treated. I was working with midwives and doctors who mostly spoke to each other and the patients in Wolof, which is a dialect I don't understand. Though they occasionally addressed me in French, I felt a little lost/left out of the conversation. But the session went smoothly,” Dr. Laurel Edmondson, Family Physician, currently working at City MD Urgent Care NYC.