In the Republic of Georgia, breast cancer is the single leading underlying cause of death for women aged 15-49. Within cancers, cervical cancer is the second leading killer. These were the findings of the recent Georgian Reproductive Age Mortality Survey (RAMOS) conducted through Georgian Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. CDC, and Georgia’s Ministry of Health to investigate the deaths of women of the reproductive age (15-49) who died in 2006. The results were published in 2009.
From its inception, the Survive Project has received strong support from First Lady of Georgia Sandra Roelofs, the Municipality of Tbilisi, UNFPA, and other civil society groups. It also has benefited from advocacy campaigns such as the Race for the Cure. Under the patronage of the First Lady, the National Screening Center was established and began providing Georgia’s first organized breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment of precancerous diseases for women residing in Tbilisi.
The objectives of the Survive Project were: 1) improving the knowledge and skills of health care providers on evidence-based cervical cancer prevention and breast and cervical cancer screening practices; 2) increasing utilization of cervical cancer screening and breast cancer early detection practices by strengthening existing health care facilities and programs and by building a referral system; and 3) advancing cervical and breast cancer early detection through informed and empowered health consumers. Screening statistics from the National Screening Center showed progressive increases in the number of women screened for breast and cervical cancer.
Under the Survive Project, a total of 445 providers (366 family doctors and 79 OB/GYNs) completed cervical and breast cancer training courses. Screening statistics from the National Screening Center showed an 89.7 percent increase in the average number of women screened monthly in the Center. During the activity, the percentage of women diagnosed in early stages of cancer (vs. late stages when the cancer is more difficult or impossible to treat) increased three-fold in Tbilisi. The vast majority of women (75%) that underwent screening reported that they learned about the screening program through the TV and outreach awareness raising campaigns. The Survive Project also conducted large-scale educational campaigns covering television, radio, targeted mailings, text messages and events such as the “Race for the Cure” and the “Pearl of Wisdom” campaign against cervical cancer.
As Dr. Berdzuli noted during her presentation, “Survive was able to accomplish significant results over a short period of time due to the leadership of the First Lady of Georgia and the Tbilisi Municipality, the enthusiasm, confidence and commitment of local NGO partners, and the strong coalition of public and private donors supporting the effort.”
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