Porirua women screen at higher rate

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES PAUL

‘‘We strug­gle to get women in our com­mu­nity to get smear tests done.’’

The mu­sic was loud, the jug boiled and nib­bles pro­vided as the women chat­ted and quilted in the clinic.

It’s not a tra­di­tional set­ting for a med­i­cal cen­tre but Porirua Union and Com­mu­nity Health Ser­vice staff were try­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Clinics can be off-putting for women who are wait­ing for their cer­vi­cal smear ap­point­ments, cen­tre co­or­di­na­tor Ioana Vil­ia­muA­mu­sia said. In­stead, clinics should adapt to the com­mu­nity they serve.

‘‘We strug­gle to get women in our com­mu­nity to get smear tests done, be­cause many of them are not born into or have not grown up in a western so­ci­ety, so we have to en­cour­age them to visit clinics in a dif­fer­ent way.’’

The mu­sic and laugh­ter was a new ap­proach to en­gage with Porirua’s di­verse com­mu­nity dur­ing a re­cent week­end of cer­vi­cal screen­ing, where lan­guage and cul­tural dif­fer­ences of­ten pre­vented women from vis­it­ing a reg­is­tered nurse or GP.

Staff ini­ti­ated the tivae­vae model, en­cour­ag­ing women to par­take in artis­tic quilt­ing, tra­di­tion­ally done by Poly­ne­sian women.

Read­ing ma­te­rial was trans­lated into sev­eral lan­guages, and reg­is­tered nurses flu­ent in Samoan, Toke­lauan, and Cook Is­land lan­guages were on hand to con­duct the tests.

’’A tivae­vae brings peo­ple to­gether in a re­laxed set­ting, it’s about part­ner­ship and shar­ing sto­ries, a lit­tle bit of coun­selling too,’’ Vil­iamu-Amu­sia said.

‘‘Once peo­ple know about us and what we of­fer, they be­gin to trust us more. And hav­ing that con­nec­tion within the com­mu­nity helps us to in­form them of health is­sues.’’

In the three years end­ing March 31, 2017, cer­vi­cal screen­ing in women aged 25 to 69 years in the Cap­i­tal and Coast Dis­trict Health Board catch­ment sits at 77.6 per­cent.

The per­cent­age of women screened is among the high­est across the coun­try, but still falls short of its tar­get. How­ever, they are not alone in fail­ing to screen 80 per­cent of all el­i­gi­ble women, ac­cord­ing to Min­istry of Health (MoH) statis­tics.

Cer­vi­cal can­cer de­vel­ops slowly when ab­nor­mal cells grow in the lower part of the uterus or womb. Reg­u­lar screen­ing can de­tect ab­nor­mal­i­ties and pre­vent health com­pli­ca­tions by re­mov­ing them.

Ac­cord­ing to the MoH, about one in 90 women will de­velop cer­vi­cal can­cer and, with­out cer­vi­cal screen­ing, one out of 200 will die from it. With cer­vi­cal screen­ing, about one out of 570 will de­velop the dis­ease and one out of 1280 will die from it.

Dis­trict Health Boards are charged with screen­ing 80 per­cent of all el­i­gi­ble women, but many strug­gle to reach that tar­get.

Of the 82,091 women aged 25 to 69 years within the Cap­i­tal and Coast DHB map, 63,663 were screened in the three years end­ing March 31, 2017.

In that same time pe­riod, 61.4 per­cent of Maori women were screened, 67.1 per­cent of Pa­cific women, and 63.3 per­cent of Asian women. Women in the Euro­pean/ other cat­e­gory screened at a much higher rate of 84 per­cent.

Dr Col­lette Brom­head, a for­mer ad­vi­sor for the Na­tional Cer­vi­cal Can­cer Screen­ing Pro­gramme, said Maori, Pa­cific and Asian women were most at risk of con­tract­ing cer­vi­cal can­cers.

The se­nior lec­turer at Massey Univer­sity said lan­guage and cul­tural dif­fer­ences were the main ob­sta­cles, as well as liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas.

‘‘If all med­i­cal cen­tres and pri­mary care could be de­liv­ered the same way as the Porirua Union and Com­mu­nity Health Ser­vice, it would be won­der­ful. They have done a fan­tas­tic job of en­gag­ing with their com­mu­nity.’’


In­stead of a wait­ing awk­wardly for an ap­point­ment, Mama Mat­a­puku, cen­tre, en­cour­aged women to par­take in a tivae­vae, an artis­tic quilt, while they waited. Cen­tre co­or­di­na­tor Ioana Vil­ia­muA­mu­sia

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