Mobile clinics: Gynecologist exam, after many years
02 March 2022
A mobile gynecological ambulance set off from the Gynecology Clinic in Skopje, North Macedonia, for the first time ever.
On 1st of December 2021 a mobile gynecological ambulance from the Gynecology Clinic in Skopje, North Macedonia, set off for the first time ever and started a route through the country offering free examinations intended for early detection of cervical cancer for women and girls from remote areas.
Another mobile ambulance has been deployed on the ground since and the number of women who are being examined is growing every day. The free gynecological examinations for women have so far reached the Municipalities Sveti Nikole, Gradsko, Vrapcishte and Lozovo.
„Since we are still in an era of pandemics, the limitation, i.e., the unavailability of sexual and reproductive health services made us mobilize, that is, to make the clinics mobile, so that we can provide field visits and avoid having women coming to the hospital too late. This reduces the risk of transmission of infections, and it also improves their health “, says prof. dr Gligor Tofoski, President of the Macedonian Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians.
The operation of the mobile gynecological ambulances is supported by the Ministry of Health and UNFPA - the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the partners - Macedonian Association of Gynecologist and Obstetricians – MAGO, the Macedonian Medical Society, and the Red Cross. It aims adolescent girls, women, and children from vulnerable groups and in remote areas to benefit from sexual and reproductive health services in the times of COVID-19.
Presence of mobile ambulances in their hometown already increased interest among women in preventive gynecological examinations. In Sveti Nikole Municipality alone, more than 220 women were examined. Among them, there were women who had not been examined for years. Some of them, given the findings, were instructed to make an additional evaluation or urgent intervention at the University Clinic of Gynecology and Obstetrics (UCGO).
According to doctors, the reason for the high number of patients with cervical cancer in the country is the fact that despite screening programs, about 40 percent of women do not have a gynecologist or are not covered by these screenings and therefore usually seek medical attention very late.
„Once we realized that the need is huge, that there is interest, we are working on finding additional modalities and means for these mobile gynecological clinics to remain operational and to further expand our field of activities, in order to get closer to the most marginalized communities and to ensure that no one is left behind", says Jovanka Brajovikj - Grigorijevikj, from UNFPA.
The partner organizations have also joined in a campaign to raise awareness about the necessity of preventive screening and timely detection of cervical cancer, which began in January, the month in which the fight against cervical cancer is honored, but it will continue throughout the year. For this purpose, a video spot was created and promoted, which was broadcast on all national televisions as well as on social networks, where messages on the importance of prevention were also presented. The campaign’s motto is „One examination, could save lives - Examine and protect yourself“.
“Safe and Innovative Health Services in Times of COVID-19 in North Macedonia” is a joint programme that helped the government improve essential health services within the context of COVID-19 by building on the significant investments already made to strengthen the national health and social systems, contain disease outbreaks, and assure health responses to various emergencies.
The programme is jointly implemented by three UN agencies - United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and World Health Organization (WHO), under the coordination of the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator and in close partnership with key national partners including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, e-Health Directorate, Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians, Committee on Safe Motherhood and Healthy New-borns, Macedonian Medical Association, Macedonian Association of Nurses and Midwives, University Clinic of Psychiatry and civil society organizations.