the difficulty of others in accessing basic medical services really makes you
appreciate the great health system we have here in Australia.
HPV screening takes on a new meaning when you have to travel for hours
up the Amazon River to reach these remote villages. Some of the villages I
visited were in the Napo region of the Amazon which is hours away from the
nearest city, Iquitos. These villages vary in size from 50 to several hundred
people. There is no electricity, nor running water or plumbing and the toilets
DB Peru is a volunteer organisation whose mission it is to partner with
local communities to provide access to healthcare, knowledge and service
delivery in order to improve living conditions for the people of Peru. DB
Peru work with the indigenous people to improve their limited access to
They have routinely been working in 28 villages in the lower Napo River
region since 2002. Those villages represent more than 6,000 people, with
60 percent being children. DB Peru brings primary and emergency
healthcare, women’s health clinics, dental clinics and medicines to the
villages along the Napo River. By bringing health services and basic care
closer to the people, we are decreasing the need for the people to leave their
villages, families and homes in possibly compromised conditions.
My clinic’s main goal was to provide as many opportunities as possible for
the women to have a HPV sample taken. Every woman in the village was
able to come and have the specimen taken which involves an examination
similar to a pap smear. I would then also perform colposcopy, which is
looking at the cervix under a microscope and applying a solution that shows
any abnormal cells. If I identified abnormal cells I was able to treat it with
cryotherapy – a procedure which uses carbon dioxide to freeze the abnormal
cells. This treatment is done without anesthetic and has minimal risks
associated with it. It also has good rates of cure for abnormal cervical cells.
It is not the best treatment available, but in the circumstances and given the
extreme isolation these women face, it is simply impossible to do any more
and cryotherapy will stop the abnormal cells from progressing to cancer.
The difficulties lie mostly with the remote locations of these communities.
There is no communication possible before our arrival so when we arrive we
BOTTOM LEFT: CLINIC SET UP
BOTTOM RIGHT: DR MOFFREY’S DAUGHTER ASSISTING AT ONE OF THE BUSY CLINICS
32 | Pindara Magazine ISSUE 12 | 2018