In January 2016, I visited the Medical Missionaries of Mary Clinic, ACO Hosing Estate, New Lugbe, Abuja, Nigeria, where Sr. Eunice Okobia, MMM, is the Matron in charge of the Hospital.
Sr. Eunice graduated from ASEC’s SLDI Finance Track in 2009 and is one of the beneficiaries of the SLDI Alumnae Signature Grant through which she received funding under a pilot program with the Catholic Sisters Initiative at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to purchase a Cervical Screening machine in June 2015.
“ASEC is a life-saving organization”, Sr. Eunice stated upon seeing my greeting her.
Cancer awareness is one of the activities carried out at the hospital. Due to high poverty levels and lack of educational resources in the area, maternal healthcare is often difficult to access. Community members give birth to many children, and many of the children are malnourished. Cases of HIV/AIDS, cancer, STDs, hepatitis, typhoid and even malaria are the norm, not isolated cases, unfortunately.
“The death tolls are felt across ages through the community and these deadly diseases are very rampant among women and men across all ages of people”, said Sr. Eunice and that is why “… it is important to give this awareness to the villagers”.
Sr. Eunice leads educational activities at the clinic twice per week and include patient screenings and information on pre-natal care, baby delivery, HIV/AIDS and cancer awareness. Obtaining cervical screening equipment “… has made our work a lot easier”, Sr. Eunice said. More importantly, she added,
“cervical cancer risk can be reduced through various measures, including the human papilloma virus vaccine and sexual abstinence before marriage.”
Through Medical Missionaries of Mary Clinic, community outreach extends to 20 villages. Cervical screening is free for everyone and there is a fee charge if treatment is needed. However, Sr. Eunice pointed out that some women’s groups such as “Poor Widows” members can receive both screenings and treatment – free of charge.
According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that over 1 million women worldwide are currently living with cervical cancer. Many have no access to health services for prevention, curative treatment or palliative care. Cervical cancer is associated with infection by human papilloma virus (HPV).
Regular cervical screening and vaccination can save thousands of life every year and ASEC is making access to life-saving screenings a reality.