Human Papilloma Virus Research
Eshetu Lemma studies HPV
This interview has been edited
“Cervical cancer is 100% preventable.”
These are the words of Eshetu Lemma Haile, MSc, MA, PhD. (c), a brilliant young scientist engaged in research on the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Since 2015, Mr. Eshetu has worked and consulted in the ICL, GIZ, WHO, EPHI, Quality Africa Network, QCC, Afriqual, and the HEMA laboratory in Addis Ababa. He learned that IPRH was returning to Adama, Ethiopia, to continue the cervical cancer screening project at Sister Aklesia Memorial Hospital. I connected with Eshetu via email, and we started the beginning of a long friendship. Our work in Adama often involves long days, sometimes up to ten hours, and little socializing.
I wanted to know more about Mr. Lemma and share his work with you.
HPV Research in Ethiopia
Eshetu is a dedicated researcher who was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His father and mother reside in Addis Ababa, as do his two brothers and his sister. Eshetu is married to Betselot and has two young sons and a daughter. Mavel is eighteen years of age, and Nataniem is twelve, Eyosiyas is ten years of age. The demands of research are often in conflict with family, but Eshetu manages to do both quite well.
IPRH and Eshetu commit to eradicating cervical cancer, and that focus resulted in critical supplies needed by Eshetu to conduct his study. Through the generosity of Hologic, IPRH provided five hundred vials of ThinPrep solution and four hundred and fifty collection devices for collecting and studying cervical cell samples. Mr. Eshetu’s research focuses on self-collection/testing compared to collection performed by physicians. The study of self-collection may be highly beneficial for women living outside of large cities like Addis Ababa and Adama. Mr. Eshetu stated that more than 80% of women reside in rural communities. The possibility of self-collection may be the most efficient way to identify Ethiopian women who are at risk for developing cervical cancer.
A Need for Pathologists
There are additional conditions that impact reliable detection initiatives; for example, Ethiopia has a significant need for pathologists. The work of the pathologist requires a scanning microscope to analyze the cervical cells. The appearance of cervical cells changes dramatically due to HPV infection. Cells that show pre-cancer changes require treatment, and cells that show signs of cervical cancer need treatment very quickly.
Mr. Eshetu stated that there is a critical need for pathologists in Ethiopia, there are few pathologists, and their workload is overwhelming. The use of telepathology (digital transfer of images) makes the job easier. Digital photos use telecommunications technology to transfer data.
The Cost of HPV Vaccine
I asked Eshetu how he became interested in HPV and cervical cancer. His immediate answer was that cervical cancer is 100 % preventable. He went on to say that 80% of women seeking care for symptoms are diagnosed with advanced stages of cervical cancer. He also noted that the uptake of the HPV vaccine is very costly for the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to provide. Although the Global Alliance of Vaccines and Immunizations) (GAVI) offsets the cost of the HPV vaccine for developing countries; however, vaccinating eligible populations would still be extremely expensive.
Mr. Eshetu’s HPV research has identified several high-risk (HR) HPV types-51,52, and 58 in Ethiopia. Worldwide, the HR HPV types that significantly increase the risk of cervical cancer are HPV 16 and HPV 18.
Mr. Eshetu is the Principal Investigator on the Covid-19 and pathology laboratory safety project in Africa and a study supported by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCCP).
The urgent message for many women is to get their cervical cancer screening done. Early detection will save your life.
Cervical Cancer is Preventable
IPRH and Eshetu have a commitment to the eradication of cervical cancer worldwide.
Through the generosity of Hologic, IPRH provided five hundred vials of ThinPrep solution and four hundred and fifty collection devices for collecting and studying cervical cell samples. Mr. Lemma’s research focuses on self-collection/testing compared to collection performed by physicians. The study of self-collection may be extremely beneficial for women living outside of large cities like Addis Ababa and Adama. Mr. Lemma stated that more than 80% of women reside in rural communities. The possibility of self-collection may be the most efficient way to identify Ethiopian women who are at risk for developing cervical cancer.