Grounds for Health was founded in 1996 by Dan Cox, the president of a U.S. coffee company, and his close friend, retired OB/GYN Dr. Francis Fote. They were visiting coffee cooperatives in Mexico when they learned that cervical cancer rates there were some of the highest in the world. Dr. Fote knew quite well that cervical cancer is preventable and—when caught early—one of the most treatable forms of cancer. Cox and Dr. Fote took action.

Working with a Mexican OB/GYN, they set out to improve cervical cancer screening in the Oaxaca region. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Ben & Jerry’s Homemade offered initial financial support, while volunteer cytologists and pathologists offered their skills, making regular trips to the area to provide on-site training and interpretation of Pap smears.

Since 1996, over 45,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer as a result of Grounds for Health programs.

Grounds for Health has come a long way since those first Paps. Today as an established 501(c)(3) organization, Grounds for Health has shifted its focus from direct service to knowledge-transfer, training, and education. While direct service is admirable, we can reach thousands more women by empowering local health care professionals to continue the work themselves, well after campaigns have ended.

Grounds for Health educates communities in the Single Visit Approach, which has proven be the most effective way to screen for and treat cervical cancer in low-resource environments. Our paid staff and team of medical volunteers collaborate with regional coffee cooperatives, community members, and local health care professionals to increase awareness about cervical cancer, establish screening campaigns, and improve cancer-prevention infrastructure.

Grounds for Health currently runs programs in Tanzania, Nicaragua and Peru, and will continue to explore the possibilities for future sites. There is an overwhelming need for cervical cancer services all over the developing world. Grounds for Health is meeting this challenge head-on with simple, effective, and sustainable solutions.

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