A team of IBM experts has presented a plan to the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the US Embassy in Kenya to encourage more women to request screening for cervical cancer, giving them a better chance at receiving life-saving treatment.

Currently, only 3% of women between the ages of 15 to 49 request cervical cancer screening. Given that patient records take many forms and are not necessarily shared between clinics, it is difficult for health providers to be aware of their patients’ cervical screening status, or to track health trends related to the disease.

After investigating the issue, IBM recommended that the Government of Kenya use its existing HIV care and treatment network to refer patients for cervical cancer testing. According to the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), women with HIV are four times more likely to develop abnormalities to the cervix, which can lead to cancer.

The IBM team also suggested that the country’s District Health Information Software be used to capture and analyze data about cervical cancer in Kenya. To that end, IBM recommended that national reporting standards and requirements be established for this disease so that health facilities can report statistics.

The 10-person IBM team, drawn from six countries, was in Kenya as part of IBM’s pro-bono Corporate Service Corps program, in which IBM deploys teams of its top employees to municipalities and countries to work on projects that intersect business, technology and society. The cancer project for which IBM provided pro bono advice is an aspect of the of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon campaign, a partnership between the George W Bush Institute, the US Department of State, PEPFAR, Susan Komen for the Cure, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

“PEPFAR’s aim in Kenya is to develop and strengthen cancer control activities through supporting the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation’s National Cancer Control Strategy 2011-2016, specifically through initiation and scale-up of cervical cancer screening (VIA/VILI) and point of care treatment of precancerous lesions with cryotherapy for HIV-infected women,” says Katherine Perry, US PEPFAR Coordinator in Kenya. “We appreciate the support of partners like IBM to implement this important strategy.”

PEPFAR strongly supports an integrated approach to addressing the health needs of people affected by HIV. The Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon campaign is an innovative partnership to leverage public and private investments in global health to combat cervical and breast cancer –- two of the leading causes of cancer death in women — in developing nations in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

“Leveraging the existing HIV care and treatment network to include cervical cancer screening is a resource sharing model that will see more Kenyan women have access to cervical cancer diagnoses and improve their treatment outcomes in the short and long term,” said IBM Country General Manager for East Africa Anthony Mwai. “This is essentially what IBM seeks to achieve — using data to create intelligent systems that add value to everyday lives,” says Mwai.

A subset of the IBM team also worked with the East Africa Power Pool to design an information technology platform for trading energy within the East Africa region. That project was coordinated with Center of Excellence for International Corporate Volunteerism (CEICV), a resource operated by USAID, the government agency that provides U.S. economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide; and with CDS Development Solutions and IBM.

IBM’s Corporate Service Corps is a global IBM initiative designed to provide small businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations in growth markets with sophisticated business advice and skills development to help improve local conditions and foster job creation. IBM deploys teams of top employees from around the world representing information technology, research, marketing, finance, consulting, human resources, legal and business development to growth markets for a period of one month.