Women play a critical role in the stability and success of families in rural Honduras. Too often girls and women are the sole caretaker, breadwinner, and parental figure in the home. The combination of poor education, transportation, nutrition, living conditions, and poverty only compound the problems women face.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among Honduran women. However, with effective screening and early treatment of precancerous cervical conditions called dysplasias, most incidences of cancer can be prevented.
Shoulder to Shoulder has engaged in an extensive cervical cancer screening campaign since 2003. Prior to this, most women never had any cervical screenings, and if they did, a woman would have to travel more than 5 hours to receive any follow-up or care following an abnormal test result.
In 2006, the donation of a colposcope and cryocautery equipment made diagnosis and treatment of dysplasias within the community a reality. Concurrent improvements in technology, communications, and infrastructure made pap screening more feasible. Gradually, with the support of the community and clinic staff, the cervical screening program was expanded to cover more communities.
For the last 25 years, Shoulder to Shoulder has focused its efforts in improving the health and overall conditions for women and their families. These efforts include:
- education of local midwives who attend home deliveries
- education of local health care volunteers
- cervical cancer detection and treatment
- home health teams to visit families
- free prenatal check-ups
- free emergency transportation for high-risk pregnancies and other emergencies