Background: The majority of women in rural India have poor or no access to cervical cancer screening services, although one-quarter of all cervical cancers in the world occur there. Several large trials have proven the efficacy of low-tech cervical cancer screening methods in the Indian context but none have documented the necessary components and processes of implementing this evidence in a low-resource setting.
Methods: This paper discusses a feasible model of implementation of cervical cancer screening programme in low-resource settings developed through a pilot research project carried out in rural Tamilnadu, India. The programme used visual inspection of cervix after acetic acid application (VIA) as a screening tool, nurses in the primary care centres as the primary screeners and peer educators within Self-Help Women groups to raise community awareness.
Results: The uptake of screening was initially low despite the access to a screening programme. However, the programme witnessed an incremental increase in the number of women accessing screening with increasing community awareness.
Conclusions: The investigators recommend 4 key components to programme implementation in low-resource setting: 1) Evidence-based, cost-effective test and treatment available within the reach of the community; 2) Appropriate referral pathways; 3) Skilled health workers and necessary equipment; and 4) Optimisation of health literacy, beliefs, attitudes of the community.