Dear Friends & Supporters,
PAG continues to support the overall health of Honduran women, especially those with limited economic resources who live in remote communities. More often than not, these women prioritize their children's health and nutritional needs before taking care of their own health needs.
According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women with an estimated 570,000 new cases worldwide in 2018.
PAG, through its Community Health Program, implements actions to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer through prevention education and access to yearly examinations for its early detection.
Women examined are given the results within 2 or 3 weeks, followed with individualized counseling and treatment with medicines for cases with minor to moderate infections, and referrals to oncology centers when cancer is suspected. As was the case of Maria Mercedes Gonzales, a 73-year-old woman who lives in the municipality of Belen Gualcho in Ocotepeque county, western Honduras. She attended one of PAG’s cervical cancer screening examination brigades, after one of her neighbors had encouraged her to get checked, especially since she had never been screened for this type of cancer.
Maria Mercedes presented with vaginal bleeding which had been going on for several weeks. After being evaluated by PAG’s medical doctor, Maria Mercedes was referred to the nearest hospital located in San Marcos municipality, and afterwards sought medical care in a private clinic. PAG’s nursing assistant followed up on this patient where she learned that Maria Mercedes was admitted to a hospital in El Salvador where she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She underwent surgery as well as radiation therapy. The doctor explained that the examination saved her life as the cancer was advanced.
Maria Mercedes with her daughter (left photo) and visited by PAG's health staff (right photo) for follow-up.
Maria and her relatives thank PAG for providing access to women in rural communities for a cervical cancer screening examination. Maria is an example of how important the early detection of cervical cancer is in order to get on-time treatment and save lives.
*Photos and information used with Maria Mercedes' consent.
Strong cultural patterns (machismo for example) continue to have a strong influence in rural families which limits the participation of rural women in educational meetings in regards to sexual and reproductive health. In the past, Indian women from these types of homes rarely were screened for the early detection of cervical cancer.
In the last 8 years, over 12,000 women have benefited with this access to education and cervical examinations through PAG's program. Thank you for your support in this critical health activity.
PAG - Executive Director