Well-organized screening and treatment programmes are effective to prevent Invasive Cervical Cancer (ICC) in LMICs. To achieve this, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the involvement of existing health personnel in casu doctors, nurses, midwives in ICC prevention. A necessary precondition is that health personnel have appropriate knowledge about ICC. Therefore, to inform policy makers and training institutions in Burundi, we documented the knowledge and practices of general practitioners (GPs) at district hospital level towards ICC control.
A descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted from February to April, 2015 among all GPs working in government district hospitals. A structured questionnaire and a scoring system were used to assess knowledge and practices of GPs.
The participation rate was 58.2%. Majority of GPs (76.3%) had appropriate knowledge (score > 70%) on cervical cancer disease; but some risk factors were less well known as smoking and the 2 most important oncogenic HPV. Only 8.4% of the participants had appropriate knowledge on ICC prevention: 55% of the participants were aware that HPV vaccination exists and 48.1% knew cryotherapy as a treatment method for CIN. Further, 15.3% was aware of VIA as a screening method. The majority of the participants (87%) never or rarely propose screening tests to their clients. Only 2 participants (1.5%) have already performed VIA/VILI. Wrong thoughts were also reported: 39.7% thought that CIN could be treated with radiotherapy; 3.1% thought that X-ray is a screening method.
In this comprehensive assessment, we observed that Burundian GPs have a very low knowledge level about ICC prevention, screening and treatment. Suboptimal practices and wrong thoughts related to ICC screening and treatments have also been documented. We therefore recommend an adequate pre- and in-service training of GPs and most probably nurses on ICC control before setting up any public health intervention on ICC control.