The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation or ACCF is an organization dedicated to eliminating cervical cancer in Australia and in developing countries such as the Philippines. Its mission is to minimize the incidence and burden of cervical cancer and related women’s health issues, and help their families and communities by developing practical and appropriate programs while partnering with like-minded governments, organizations, and individuals to achieve their aims.

With ACCF’s goal and CECAP’s vision to have a cervical cancer free Philippines, both made an agreement on July 14, 2015 to further their advocacy. An ocular visit and community capability assessment stakeholders meeting involving local health officials was conducted in Catarman, Northern Samar on November 13, 2012 prior the agreement and as a result, Catarman was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of ACCF to implement a cervical cancer screening and prevention program in the Province.

Northern Samar is one of the three provinces comprising Samar Island, and is classified as a second class province. Based on the 2010 National Census, the province has a total population of 589,013 and a household population of 94,410. Catarman is the capital town of the province where most political and economic activities take place. It is the seat of administration and the center of trade and commerce as well as industry. It is the best place to start the pilot projects to serve as the model care delivery systems which can be replicated and expanded to other barangays all over the province. Moreover, it fits CECAP’s criteria for a pilot site with

  1. Political Commitment
  2. Management Support
  3. Identification of key personnel to train
  4. Availabillity of infrastraucture for the program5.) Established data for women at risk.

After the signing of the memorandum of agreement, the team who will champion and implement the program in Catarman was formed; healthcare providers (doctors, nurses, midwives) were trained, and the site was given the necessary tools such as cryomachines, CO2 tanks, and vinegar. There were also barangay health workers (BHW) workshops on cervical cancer prevention, and lay forums for women empowerment, and awareness.

On 2016, the second year of the program, the initial target coverage of 500 women screened a year was achieved. 1,223 women were screened, with adjustment on the SVA target coverage. Aside from providing preventive services, 6 Continuing Medical Education (CME) with supportive supervisory visits (SSV) were done to assure proficiency of health workers on identifying VIA classification, diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, donation of tools, training, lay forums, and meetings continued.

On November 13-14, 2017, to mark the end of the 2-year program, ACCF and CECAP went to Catarman to paint Catarman orange in celebration of cervical cancer awareness. This program coincided with the commencement of the Cervical Cancer Awareness Week in Australia. (pictures)

In Summary, by November 2017 the program achievements were

  • 1,642 screened with VIA, of which 35 women were VIA positive.
  • 29 Cryotherapies, 23 of which were done on the same day of screening, while 6 done on other days.
  • 2 Referrals involving large lesions for management; 2 suspected for cancer, 1 underwent surgery but refused chemotherapy, 1 lost to follow up.