Dércia Changule
Central Hospital of Maputo
Maputo, Mozambique
Fellow of the IGCS Global Curriculum & Mentorship Program

Where did you complete your training? Or tell us about your background in gyn oncology.
Before entering the gynecologic oncology fellowship, I worked as a resident in gynecology and obstetrics at the Central Hospital of Maputo. When I was a resident in gynecology and obstetrics, I was working with patients with gynecological cancer. Most of them—about 90%— suffered from cervical cancer and were hospitalized in advanced stages where, for the most part, only palliative treatment was indicated. I saw a lot of suffering in these women.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in gyn oncology or what about it interested you?
Gynecological cancer, in particular cervical cancer, constitute a public health problem in the country. It is the cancer that causes the most death and morbidity in Mozambican women. Screening, diagnosis and treatment is very deficient, as there are no qualified surgeons to treat this group of patients, causing a lot of suffering in women. The latter encouraged me to acquire the skills in order provide adequate services to patients with this kind of cancer, and I fortunately had that opportunity with the IGCS fellowship program. I am very grateful.

Tell us about your work in women’s cancer: daily activities and/or special projects.
Since 2017 and being a part of the ICGS Global Curriculum program, I have been involved in several actions to combat gynecological cancer in my country from participating in primary, secondary and tertiary screening activities for cervical cancer. We look forward to the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the national vaccine calendar— it will help significantly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in my country for the following years. Since the start of the fellowship in 2017, we have carried out oncology surgeries with our international mentors, and now we are currently caring out surgeries without their supervision.

Tell us about the person or people who have inspired you the most in your career.
The entire IGCS team— from the international mentors in Brazil, Dr. Kathleen and Ellen for always fighting to make the program feasible as it is today.

What is the most rewarding part of your career?
The most rewarding part of my career is that my colleagues and I can perform radical hysterectomies.

What is the most beneficial resource or equipment you have access to at your training site?
The most beneficial resource we have access to is radiotherapy.

What is one of the biggest challenges in gyn cancer care in your region? What resources are lacking?
A challenge we see in gyn cancer care in my region is the lack of brachytherapy.

How long have you been a member and how did you become involved with IGCS?
I have been an IGCS member since 2017. In 2017, IGCS selected three Obstetrician-Gynecologists in my country to be trained in the Global Curriculum & Mentorship Program. I was so happy that I was one of the three.

Is there a story/example of a time you were especially proud of your involvement with IGCS?
Since my two colleagues and I are trained through the IGCS Global Curriculum program, we are now able to perform radical hysterectomies and provide surgical treatment for women with invasive cervical cancer. This is an important milestone in efforts to reduce the mortality of cervical cancer in my country. When we finish our fellowship, we will be able to train other gynecologists and be able to offer quality service of care to women with cancer in different parts of the country.

What does being a part of the IGCS Global Curriculum & Mentorship Program mean to you?
It is a unique opportunity. I feel like I am making a difference in my country.

What is a unique or fun fact about your country or community culture?
Mozambique has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Does your country/region have a traditional food or drink? Do you like it?
I like seafood, and we have a special way to prepare it here.