In Latin America, cervical cancer comprises 17.0% of all cancers and deaths (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) and13.6% in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, in Latin America and the Caribbean, many women do not know about cervical cancer, cancer screening availability, or treatment programs. Most Latin American and Caribbean countries offer Pap screening but lack treatment programs and therefore are unable to offer follow-up care for cancers detected by the Pap test. This is unfortunate as cervical cancer is preventable when detected early.
Given these facts, the Spirit Foundation seeks to increase the interest of healthcare providers in diagnosing, managing, and treating cervical disease. The foundation also works to increase capacity by offfering specialized training in HPV-related diseases. This includes (1) collaborating with the Asociación Salvadoreña para la Prevención del Cáncer (ASAPRECAN), a non-profit organization in El Salvador to lobby legislative stakeholders to inlcude the HPV vaccine in the National Regime of Vaccination and (2) training health educators in El Salvador to use the Con Amor Aprendemos Program to educate the community on the importance of Pap or HPV screening tests and the vaccine. The Con Amor Aprendemos Program is sponsored by the initiative against cervical cancer of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the Spirit Foundation, and the American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division. We hope to use the model currently in progress in El Salvador in other Latin American countries with high rates of cervical cancer.