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Lynne Gaffikin: Importance of GFH

Editor’s Note: We recently asked Lynne a couple questions about why she chose to contribute some of her precious time to serve as an Advisory Board member. We found her words so spot on, that we wanted to share.

Grounds for Health (GFH) is addressing a critical women’s health problem, cervical cancer, that inequitably persists in areas of the world where proven screening and treatment programs are not routinely available. Reasons for this are mainly socio-economic. Thus, solutions must consider these field realities and help turn constraints into opportunities. GFH’s approach does just this by focusing its efforts in rural coffee growing communities around the world. Even though the health intervention is for women, the approach targets the whole community which is key to success. Male community members contribute by helping to transport women to the clinic and with community sensitization, so the effort is “owned” by all.

Women are the backbone of these communities and GFH’s support for a tangible health intervention not only saves lives but also increases community appreciation of women’s roles – as wives, mothers, agriculturalists and contributing community members. Communities begin to better understand how their collective productivity will improve if their women remain healthy –as this translates directly into improved community well-being associated with income generation from their coffee growing.

The international specialty coffee community plays a key role in contributing to this more “rapid cycle of change” through guaranteeing a market for the coffee, a strong incentive to the community to stay healthy and productive. It does this also by financially supporting GFH’s tangible interventions that help ensure community health. Healthy coffee growing communities can serve a larger, role model in these regions and countries as such communities draw local respect and international attention from their coffee activities. This integrated approach with its multiplicative effects makes GFH’s program particularly special, and impactful. Every partner clearly has a key role making the “whole much greater than the sum of the parts”.

As a public health professional that has worked to promote improved health in low resource settings for over 30 years, I am particularly excited to work with a group and approach that recognizes the interdependency among health, women’s empowerment, livelihood and rural agricultural conditions. Uni-sectoral approaches can be effective in select environments but the fact that inequities persist, underscores that alternative strategies are needed. GFH’s program is one such model alternative.

3 Responses

  1. Lin Beverly

    Lynne, I can provide free Pap smear screening from foreign sites if you can get Olympus to donate a BX-45 microscope for my use. Regards, Lin

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