Early detection of cancer and dental care in rural communities

Dental Care: Dental cavities  are one of the most prevalent chronic conditions among children. In Armenia, lack of knowledge on dental hygiene among children and their families, unhealthy nutrition, and limited availability of running water in the villages result in high prevalence levels of caries. Water fluoridation or other mass-preventive activities are not implemented in Armenia. In addition, dental treatment is expensive and not available in the regions, especially in the remote villages. COAF’s assessment shows that dental cavities  are prevalent among 99% of children in COAF villages. Our approach to decreasing this number is prevention – education children on oral hygiene, fluoridating teeth, ensuring regular tooth-brushing activities by establishing specialised stations (Brushodromes)in schools and providing 1st and 2nd grade students with toothpaste and toothbrushes. In addition, we have created dental units in the villages where children have their teeth treated. Since 2010, we established 3 dental units serving  more than 15 villages and as a result, 5,325 children have healthier teeth. Our preventive measures resulted in 30% decrease in the prevalence of dental decay. Read about the impact of the program from Temple University’s College of Public Health here.

Early detection of cancer: Cancer kills 1 in 6 people around the world every year. It is the second leading cause of death (20.5%) after cardiovascular disease in Armenia. The high prevalence is mainly caused by people’s tendency of not visiting a doctor for screenings regularly and on time. Breast & cervical cancer screenings are available but not fully implemented in the primary healthcare level as part of state policy. Other types of cancer screening are not available at this level. COAF provides people with  access to regular cancer screenings. Early detection is crucial to ensure the best chance for successful and less expensive treatment.  We educate adults  to be aware of  symptoms and to perform regular self-examinations. The examination is implemented in three stages: clinical exams by trained local health providers (doctors & nurses) through palpation and consultation, ultrasound exams for referred cases by hired sonographers, and mammography, biopsy and hormonal tests for the referred cases by contracted diagnostic and health centers. Since 2008, 1,771 women and men were screened on early detection of breast, thyroid and prostate cancers. 48 cancer cases were detected and complications prevented.