Development of a clockwork light source to enable cervical inspection by village health workers
Journal - BMC Women's Health
BackgroundCervical cancer can often be prevented by screening and may be curable if identified and treated in its early stages. However, 80% of new cases occur in less-developed countries where cervical cancer screening programmes are small-scale or non-existent. This is a human tragedy of great proportion, with many of those affected being young mothers. There is some evidence that cancerous or precancerous lesions may be detected by visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) and field studies indicate that this technique is effective, safe and acceptable to women. However, the provision of a light source for inspection of the cervix presents a major problem in less-developed countries, where candles and torches often provide the only means of illumination. Our objective was to develop a light source based on clockwork technology, that required no batteries or external power source.MethodsWe adapted the design of a commercially available clockwork torch to provide a light source for cervical inspection. The light source was then tested under laboratory conditions in a comparison with other illumination methods typically used in this application.ResultsThe light source gave illuminance levels greater than those produced by any other method tested, and also had considerable advantages in terms of ease of use and safety.ConclusionThis design is small, compact, effective and safe to use and promises a better and more affordable means of visualising the cervix. Further field trials of VIA are now required which incorporate this light source.