Resources and Costs for Initiation and Sustainability of a Secondary Cervical Cancer Prevention Clinic at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda

Mayanja Ronald, Chakura Andrew, Mubiru Musa, Masembe Sezalio, Nkonwa Innoncent, Kasujja John, Emilio Sanchez, Wasswa Ssalongo, Joseph Ngonzi


Background: Each year approximately 450,000 new cases of invasive cervical carcinoma are diagnosed worldwide. The cervical cancer incidence rate is highest in countries that have little or no cytologic cervical cancer screening. There are many barriers to establishing cervical cancer screening programs in resource-poor settings. The main objective was to determine the cost of setting up and sustaining secondary cervical cancer prevention services in Uganda. Methods: In order to evaluate the use of alternative screening methods in a resource-poor setting, we instituted a study at the colposcopy and cervical pathology clinic at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda. Previously unscreened women ages 25years and above were screened using a combination of conventional cytology and direct visual inspection (DVI). The outcomes included costs of clinic set up, training costs, cost of equipments, salaries and supplies. Screening strategies were distinguished by the number of clinical visits, the use of 1 or 2 screening tests and screening frequency. Screening tests included DVI and cytology. Results: The screening started in April 2009 through aid of an American non government organization known as Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) which provided the initial funding for equipment and clinic set-up. Out of 4659 women screened in 2013, 73.2% were below 50 years, 17.7% were 50 years and above. Majority of women (55.0%) come from Mbarara district, 71.3% were from rural areas outside Mbarara Municipality. The prevalence of HIV was 19.0%. Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia comprised (4.8%), 225cases, while cervical cancer comprised (2.7%) 125cases, 94.2% were treated with Cryotherapy, 5.3% were treated by LEEP and one total abdominal hysterectomy. The cost of reusable requirements for setting up a cervical cancer screening clinic was Ugshs 11,730,000.00. The cost of screening a population of 4659 in 2013 was 54, 302, 200.00, the cost of screening one woman using acetic acid was Ugshs 152.00, and Pap smear per woman is Ugshs 55,000.00, while the cost of screening one woman using lugol’s iodine was Ugsh 4,000.00(the cost of reusable speculums, gloves,cotton and gauze is not included on individual patients).  The cost of cin treatment of a population of 3569 women was Ugshs 9,800,000.00 plus 2280.00USD. Cryotherapy per woman was Ugshs 46,226.00.(the cost of  gloves, cotton, guaze and reusable equipment such as speculums is not included). When using two  stationary clinic nurses the cost in salaries and training will be Ugshs 23,204,000.00, however if using outreach model the cost in allowances and training will be 85,450,000.00. When using a group of 20 volunteers for the outreach model the cost in allowances and training will be Ugshs 33,050,000.00.(USD = Ugshs 4000.00). (The cost of gloves, cotton swabs and gauze is not included). Conclusion: Cytologic screening is several times more costly than direct visual inspection (DVI). Visual inspection screening of the cervical and treatment with Cryotherapy can be used as a cost effective alternative method to cytologic examination for control of cervical cancer in low resource areas. Using existing staff and integration of screening services into existing services into annual hospital budget helps in sustainability of donor initiated cervical cancer screening programs. Recommendations: Cervical cancer screening programs in low resource areas should adopt direct visual inspection using 3-5% acetic acid as the main screening method and “see and treat” approach for treatment of positive lesions. For program sustainability cervical cancer screening services should be integrated into the main hospital programs and annual budget. Existing personnel and infrastructure should be used for cost effectiveness and sustainability.

Keywords: Resources, Initiation, Sustainability, Cervical Cancer, Prevention

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