The Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) through Potlako + Study recently held community outreach and engagement activities in seven villages where the study is taking place to impart knowledge on the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. These community education activities were held at four Southern and three Northern villages in Botswana: These being Lentsweletau, Metsimotlhabe, Oodi and Molapowabojang in the South and Maunatlala, Lerala and Shoshong in the North.
Potlako +: A multilevel intervention to improve timely cancer detection and treatment initiation in Botswana is a pair-matched, community-randomized study involving 20 rural and peri-urban communities that participated in one of BHP’s largest HIV prevention trials, the Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) which took place on 30 Botswana villages and communities between 2013 and 2018.
The study seeks to assess the following:
Effectiveness of cancer symptom awareness intervention delivered in communities and clinics aimed at reducing time to presentation with cancer.
The impact of a comprehensive, real-time, patient navigation and advocacy platform in reducing time to initiation of cancer treatment.
Whether the combined multilevel intervention decreases cancer stage at diagnosis and increases number of patients treated with intent to cure versus palliation.
Potlako + Study Coordinator, Kutlo Manyake emphasizes the importance of community education in improving public awareness of different cancer symptoms and encourages people to seek care well in time and be able to access effective treatment.
“We have partnered with local clinics, dikgosi and village Development Committees (VDC) in participating villages to facilitate community education on the study and impart knowledge on cancer and its management in general. We also work with and train health professionals in these clinics so that they can conduct accurate and timely diagnosis,” said Manyake.
Manyake facilitated the activities in the North where in addition to community education, the study also faciliated screening of cervical cancer for women as well as penile and prostate cancer for men.
In the South, the activities were facilitated by the Study Physician, Dr Taolo Ntloedibe. The activities included a walk for cancer in Lentsweletau Village spearheaded by the Village Development Committee (VDC).
Kgosi Butler Badisang of Lentsweletau commended BHP for the outreach and implored residents of his village to always seek medical advice and assistance whenever they notice unusual changes in their bod or their health.