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Educate a woman, educate a Nation; MKUR Nursing students sensitize residents of Gatenga-Kicukiro district about Cervical cancer

As part of their school project, students from Mount Kenya University Rwanda (MKUR) nursing department on 4th, November, 2022 visited Gatenga Health Centre in Kicukiro district to sensitize patients, in particular women about cervical cancer and its causes.

Thacien Ndebeyaho a nursing student at MKUR speaking to some of the patients

Led by their group leader Matthew Ouma Okumu, the nursing students spent their whole afternoon educating women about Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer, how it spreads and how people can protect themselves against it.

“Our target population was women over 18 years of age who are sexually active and the main concern was to find out if they have ever gone for HPV screening or any pap test (smear)” Matthew said.

Considering that we were at a health center, I can say we were a bit lucky as we got to engage with over 20 patients as a group and others personally. Out of all those, only 5 knew about cervical cancer and only three had gone for screening”, he added.

A nursing student interacting with one of the woman at Gatenga Health Center

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a viral infection that’s spread through skin to skin contact; 40 out of the over 100 varieties of HPV are spread through sexual contact and can affect one’s genital area, the mouth or throat.

HPV is most commonly spread when one has either vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who is infected with the virus and the main characteristic symptoms are; a bump on the genitals, itchiness of the vagina or anus or a skin burning sensation.

People can protect themselves from catching the virus through practicing safe sex, as well as getting the HPV vaccine. Those already infected can use medications such as salicylic acid, Imiquimod, Trichloroacetic acid among others as prescribed by a specialist.

A report by Rwanda Biometric Centre (RBC) showed in the year 2021; 2575 HPV vaccines were administered, 62,468 screenings completed, 5,563 treatments for pre-cancerous lesions done and 1,230 cervical cancer diagnoses administered. (

However, among the ladies the students interacted with, most complained about the lack of diagnosis services of cervical cancer especially at health centers.

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