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Peace Care heads to Senegal to help communities fight cervical cancer

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Andrew Dykens

Andrew Dykens, director of the global health program, is the founder of Peace Care, a group that provides health care services around the world.

UIC Photo Services

They’re saving lives in Senegal.

A delegation of 12 UIC health professionals and communications specialists left Thursday for the west African nation, where they will focus on cervical cancer prevention.

The three-week visit is a follow-up to a trip last year by Peace Care, an organization founded four years ago by Andrew Dykens, director of the global health program in the department of family medicine.

About 1,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Senegal every year, with nearly 795 dying of the disease, Dykens said.

Peace Care’s efforts are guided by the communities it serves. Last year, after residents of the Saraya district selected cervical cancer prevention services as what they needed most, Peace Care workers showed five trainers how to conduct mass screenings.

This year the work will be expanded to include teaching cryotherapy — using nitrous oxide to freeze and kill the cells of precancerous lesions.

“The project is focused on systems development for health care workers, also paying a lot of attention to the building blocks for health system strengthening,” Dykens said.

They will be working in the Kedougou region of southeastern Senegal.

“For 2013 we’ll look to neighboring regions,” Dykens said.

The project is a collaboration between Peace Care, the department of family medicine, the School of Public Health, the Kedougou region and Peace Corps Senegal.

Besides Dykens, the delegation includes Emily Godfrey, assistant professor of family medicine; family medicine resident physicians Nate McLaughlin and Magda Piatek; Tracy Irwin, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology; medical student Amish Desai; Lali Abril, assistant professor of communication; and Magda Kupczyk, a student in public health.

Dykens also credited Karen Peters, a faculty member in community health sciences and the Institute for Health Research and Policy, for her help with the trip.


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