AVSI took part in the event “Enhancing efforts to improve health equity in prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases” organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis (CI), Rome, October 1st-2nd.Of the 57 million deaths that occurred globally in 2008, 36 million (63%) were due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), comprising mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. NCDs are a major cause of lost productivity and pose a significant threat to human development, poverty alleviation, global economic stability and security. The majority of people who succumb prematurely to NCDs are living in countries with weak health systems and where health care expenditure are high.
The aim of the meeting was to document and address equitable access to essential NCD interventions and discuss challenges, gaps, and ways to overcome them. Among the participants, Chiara Mezzalira, pediatrician and AVSI collaborator in emergency situations, talked about the experience at the St. Kizito Primary Healthcare Center in Nigeria, supported by AVSI since 1991, and the work done to affirm the value of women, both within the family and the society, by providing concrete forms of support and care.
For over 10 years AVSI and St. Kizito Center have been carrying out the Women’s Health Education Program (WHE), saving women’s lives by educating them about the prevention of the female most common diseases: hypertension and breast and cervical cancers. About the cervical cancer, which is the second most deadly type of cancer in Nigeria, AVSI has adopted the simple and inexpensive VIA/VILI screening method and diffused it both through trainings for health care workers and community awareness meetings.
WHE screening for women is integrated in the routine services offered and in the staff training at St. Kizito PHC, but an ongoing outreach campaign is also reaching women (usually groups of 50-100) through local associations in the nearby urban neighborhoods.
AVSI has accepted this challenge just to reaffirm, trough the protection of women, its commitment to support the family as a pillar of society.