Basic Health International has spent more than 15 years eradicating cervical cancer.
Basic Health International has spent more than 15 years honing its vision of eradicating cervical cancer. Dr. Miriam Cremer, its Founder and President, witnessed the death of a woman in El Salvador from cervical cancer in 1997 and she decided then and there that no woman should have to die from an entirely preventable disease. That experience planted the seed, and since that time, BHI has grown into an organization recognized for its innovative work in cervical cancer prevention and treatment research.
BHI is currently working on the third phase of a 30,000 women project, The Cervical cAncer Prevention Program (CAPE) in El Salvador that is investigating the feasibility of using a low-cost HPV DNA test as a primary screen to identify women with cervical pre-cancer. If the disease is diagnosed in any of the women, these women will then be given immediate treatment. Please see El Salvador for more information on this important project. BHI is also investigating the accuracy of women collecting their own HPV sample, a “self sample,” that would obviate the need for a health care provider to perform the test. In addition, Dr. Cremer was awarded a multi-million NIH grant in 2014 to do cutting edge research on a simple, low-cost, effective pre-cancer treatment. The combination of a highly sensitive screening followed by effective treatment has the potential to shift the world paradigm on cervical cancer care in low-resource settings.
WHAT WE DO:
1. Training for healthcare providers in the see-and-treat approach of Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) and cryotherapy.
2. Training for local health promoters in cervical cancer education and screening promotion.
Since 2006, BHI has held more than 20 training courses for more than 95 healthcare providers in areas throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. These training sessions has enabled nearly 20,000 women to been screened, and as a result, over 150 biopsy confirmed pre-cancerous lesions and 20 invasive cervical cancers have been identified and treated. BHI has also trained 443 health promoters in cervical cancer education, who have then gone on to teach their communities about HPV and cervical cancer. Sustainability is the framework of Basic Health International’s model. BHI believes that training local healthcare professionals to provide gynecological care in rural areas will reinforce sustainable health practices and empower healthcare providers. This replicable, portable system is adaptable and places little burden on the public health system.
BHI has developed technical manuals used by the Ministry of Health to train physicians in VIA, and has worked with the World Health Organization to develop technical guidelines for the use of cryotherapy in low-resource settings. Additionally, BHI serves as a technical advisor on ways to help develop sustainable public health policies and programs that will strengthen the impact of ongoing health interventions.
Click here for the WHO guidelines on administering cryotherapy in resource-limited settings.
1. Making cervical cancer screening and treatment accessible to women living in remote, rural regions of Central America and the Caribbean.
2. Providing the cost of treatment, housing, transportation and meals for women BHI identifies with having invasive cervical cancer in El Salvador.
Free screening is provided to women who attend the training sessions that BHI conduct throughout Central America and the Caribbean. During these trainings, BHI has screened over 20,000 women for cervical cancer, treated over 150 biopsy-confirmed cervical pre-cancers, and diagnosed and treated 20 cervical cancers. As of January 2015, BHI has 92 active patients.
Patient House in San Salvador:
An integral part of the patient care that BHI provides is the Patient House. Many of the women being treated by BHI live in rural areas and the cost of travel to San Salvador in addition to the cost of the cancer treatment is financially prohibitive. BHI’s Patient House provides a comfortable and safe place for the women who are receiving treatment to stay, their meals and transportation to and from the cancer treatment facility.
To see a list of Dr. Cremer, Dr. Masch, Dr. Maza and Dr. Alfaro’s published research papers, please click here.