"Many of the women we work with have no health insurance"

Albania cervical cancer 3

Hatixhe Gorenca is a nurse at the Albanian Centre of Population and Development (ACPD) clinic in Tirana. She joined the center in 2013 with 39 years of experience working in gynaecology. During her time as a nurse, she has seen vast improvements in access and services for cervical cancer screenings. However, she says that there is a considerable number of women in rural areas that face difficulties in accessing healthcare, and some that cannot access it at all.

Rural women & access

“The ACPD clinic is crucial for these [rural] women, because the healthcare we offer through gynaecological visits, includes counselling, pap tests, colposcopies and recently VIA tests and cryotherapy. Services that are totally missing in their areas. What they appreciate most is the mobile clinic in the outskirts of Tirana, because they have an opportunity to meet with doctors and to get information about their health status. We do approximately 17-18 visits per day and the number is always increasing”, Hatixhe says.

The clinic has developed a reputation for offering youth-friendly healthcare and information. The confidential and open approach of the clinic is providing access for girls to comprehensive sexual education at an early age, without fear of discrimination or embarrassment.

When the clinic first introduced VIA testing in 2017, as an alternative way for the screening of cervical cancer, it was welcomed by the women. “The reason is that compared to PAP test, VIA gives an immediate response on the health of the cervical cells,” Hatixhe explains. “The other reason is economical. Many of the women we work with have no health insurance, as such they cannot benefit from the free tests at maternity hospitals. Furthermore, some of them are vulnerable women and they feel safe when they can get free information and healthcare at our clinic.”

 

Story originally published on www.ippf.org