Cervical cancer affects almost half a million women a year, claiming close to 300,000 lives, 85% of these in the developing world. Though it is preventable, treatable and curable, cervical cancer remains the #1 cause of cancer death for women throughout the developing world, due simply to a lack of access to preventive care. It is estimated that as many as 95% of women in developing countries do not have access to cervical cancer screening.
In addition to participating in weeklong session of meetings at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Burns was asked to author a chapter in the Pink Book. The chapter on health outreach, education and counseling will draw on Grounds for Health’s proven strengths in incorporating community mobilization as an essential element in creating the kind of prevention programs that continue with community leadership long after development agencies are no longer on the ground.
Dr. Eduardo Franco, Chair of the Department of Oncology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, one of the invited experts advising WHO on the new guidelines and a new Grounds for Health Board member said, “August spoke eloquently about the single visit approach to prevent cervical cancer in rural communities in countries with a high burden of cervical cancer. At the outset of the WHO meeting, the impression by the experts was that screen-and-treat approaches had been restricted to deluxe research studies conducted in low-income countries by clinicians and epidemiologists from developed countries. The testimonial by August on her organization’
Created in 1996, Grounds for Health has established community-driven, locally sustainable cervical cancer prevention programs in rural coffee-growing areas. Its success has been made possible thanks to the support from over 200 coffee companies and individuals who seek to end the economic and social burden of losing women in their prime to a preventable disease. The organization’
Of her WHO appointment, Burns said, “The invitation from the World Health Organization validates the notion that even a small organization can have a big impact. Our coffee supporters have made it possible for Grounds for Health to continually improve its program and now the organization is in a position to share its approach with the global public health community. As a result, remote rural communities are gaining the skills to care for their own and women’s lives are being saved.”