World Cancer Day: Dispelling Myths

World Cancer Day (February 4) gives a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. Building upon the success of last year, World Cancer Day 2014 focuses on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: Reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer, under the tagline “Debunk the myths.”

When it comes to cervical cancer prevention, Grounds for Health is committed to dispelling the four major myths of cancer:


Myth 1: We Don’t Need to Talk about Cervical Cancer

Through Grounds for Health community health promoter trainings, local leaders learn not only the importance of cervical cancer prevention, but also how to talk about it with their friends, neighbors and peers. It’s essential to open a clear and accurate dialog not only among women, but also among their families, husbands and brothers.

I’ve spoken a lot with my wife Mayra and children about the importance of the project. We feel like it has united us as a family and improved communication between us, because—even sometimes with families, between partners, between a husband and wife—it’s difficult to talk about our private parts. In our case, this project brought us closer together as a family. Now we can comment on our bodies, our privates like they are any other part of the body part, like my eye, my face, or my mouth. And that has been a great achievement. I think it has been a great achievement for the family, not only with my wife but also with my two children. – Marlon Villareyna, excerpt from Most Significant Change

Myth 2: Cervical Cancer … There Are No Signs or Symptoms

While there are telltale signs of cervical cancer, it is an extremely slow developing disease, which creates a unique opportunity for effective prevention. Grounds for Health specializes in the Single Visit Approach, where a woman can be screened and treated for pre-cancer in one day. If she shows signs of cancer, she is immediately referred for follow-up testing and care.


Myth 3: There is Nothing I Can Do About Cervical Cancer

Prevention is power. Once women, men and families understand the importance of cervical cancer prevention, they realize the control is in their hands.

My personal challenge is to educate people in the community about the importance of early screening, to give people the opportunity to get screened, and to use the single-visit approach whenever possible. The most important lesson is that if we want we can work to prevent deaths from cervical cancer with a very simple method. A very inexpensive method, that is very effective and widely available. - Yamila Rivero Osorio, nurse and local Grounds for Health trainer

Myth 4: I Don’t Have the Right to Cervical Cancer Care

Simply put: no woman should die from cervical cancer. It’s time to elevate the importance of women’s health around the world: healthy women make for a healthy planet. Cervical cancer is a 100% preventable disease that we have the tools and power to stop. Access to effective cervical cancer screening is key, and at health conferences and think tanks around the world, Grounds for Health advocates for the “woman at the end of the road.” We share our lessons learned and show global health leaders the importance of community mobilization and involvement at all stages of program development.

Partners from the Global Forum on Cervical Cancer Prevention unveiled the Universal Call to Action

Executive Director August Burns (bottom, third from left) at the Global Forum on Cervical Cancer Prevention

At Grounds for Health, our mission and passion is to dispel these myths and to ensure all women live free from the burdens of cervical cancer.

Most Significant Change: Importance of Training

Ena leading a training session

Ena leading a training session

Story Teller: Ena del Carmen Balarezo Ramirez
Role: A midwife working in sexual and reproductive health division of DISA Jaén, the sub-regional health authority
Date of Recording: July 4, 2013
Location: A restaurant in Jaén, Cajamarca, Peru

My name is Ena del Carmen Balarezo Ramirez. I am a midwife and have worked for the local Ministry of Health for the Jaén and San Ignacio Provinces (DISA Jaén) for more than 18 years.

I first got to know Grounds for Health during their first visit to Peru in June 2012, when they came to do a site assessment. I also had the opportunity to participate in the first campaign in February 2013. For me, this was something new that was going to serve me well because I felt that training me would give me the ability to train my colleagues in the importance of doing quality work for women. For me, Grounds for Health is an opportunity, something positive. It is a privilege to have such wonderful professionals come here to train us. Above all, it has been a benefit for the women of the area.

There are approximately 80,000 women between the ages of 30 and 50 in the area of Jaén and San Ignacio. At the local ministry of health, we had a goal of reaching 7,000 women per year over three years. To date we have only facilitated access for approximately 2,500-3,000 women. We still have a lot of work to do.

For me, Grounds for Health is an opportunity, something positive. It is a privilege to have such wonderful professionals come here to train us. Above all, it has been a benefit for the women of the area.

While we knew that VIA existed, we had no trained personnel. It is a joy to have begun to working with Grounds for Health. This has been something very positive for us because since February of this year we have started training professionals in what is really a simple and rapid screening test that allows us to detect pre-cancerous lesions that can be treated on the same day. The professionals that attended the Grounds for Health training in February are very satisfied, and we feel the same at DISA Jaén.

When we did Pap, it was always difficult to receive the results. The goal was for the woman to receive her results within a maximum of 30 days. But we often did not even reach this standard. Often the woman’s results were lost or she received her results after six months or after one year. Suddenly, the lesion would advance to another state and we felt horrible and dissatisfied because we had done nothing for that woman. Also, we had problems because we did not know where to refer patients. When women have a positive test or a lesion that needs treatment, they become stressed or worried. We cannot allow that woman to suffer like that in her house. We must facilitate access to treatment at the earliest opportunity. For this woman, she has great need for treatment because she has children. Thus, we must focus on her.

Checking out a new cryo unit

Checking out a new cryo unit

In relation to Grounds for Health, there are many positive aspects, and we have learned many lessons. I appreciate how they work in a team with great discipline. The planning of the activities is well done. The organization of the trainings is great. The facilitators are experts, and we greatly appreciate the methods used to teach us. Grounds for Health has fantastic training materials and, above all, the participants feel great. Grounds for Health has given us confidence that we can learn quickly and progress with a great deal of practice.

There are no negative impacts. To the contrary, it has strengthened us. We would like Grounds for Health to always be here. Everything that we have learned has helped us to be sustainable. We can institute all that we have learned. I believe that the personnel that have been trained by Grounds for Health helps us achieve the goal that all women in Jaén and San Ignacio have access to cervical cancer prevention programming.

Grounds for Health will highlight a series of Most Significant Change stories from all program sites. Many accounts consist of excerpts from longer interviews. For full transcripts, please contact Justin Mool at:

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Cervical cancer is a major killer of women worldwide and yet it is highly preventable. Cervical cancer kills almost 700 women per day in developing countries – that’s one every two minutes. Most of these deaths can be prevented. Proven community-based programs like the ones led by Grounds for Health are providing access to effective one-day screening and treatment programs for only 25 cents in materials per woman.

Screening tests are now available for detecting early cervical cancer as well as vaccines to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer. However, half of cervical cancers occur among women rarely or never screened for cancer. It’s hard to believe that 95% of women living in the developing world are never screened and that is why the death rate from cervical cancer is so high … and climbing.

Women who die from cervical cancer, die young, typically in their 40’s. These are the mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters who are pivotal to the health and wellbeing of their families and communities.

People in developed countries do not think of cervical cancer as the major, global health problem that it is. Women in the west, for the most part, have access to life saving early detection. Not so for poor women living in rural areas in much of the world. Women who die from cervical cancer, die young, typically in their 40’s. These are the mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters who are pivotal to the health and wellbeing of their families and communities.

Mothers, daughters, sisters.

Mothers, daughters, sisters.

Since 1996, more than 580 Grounds for Health trained local community health promoters have brought almost 42,000 rural women for screening by Grounds for Health-trained practitioners in 5 countries. When cervical cancer is detected early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

Please support the cause to end this killer of women by letting others know about Cervical Cancer Awareness Month this January. You can also support Grounds for Health directly by donating to our January Fundraiser.

A woman who is screened even once in her life through a program like Grounds for Health is already 30% less likely to die from cervical cancer. Screened twice and her risk is reduced by 66%. Please help in spreading the word regarding this very important and preventable disease that affects so many women in the developing world.

Donate for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month »

When you give to Grounds for Health, your donation may save a life, preserve a family and empower a community half way around the world. Women taking care of women – a powerful strategy for a better world.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in a press release on Pitch Engine.

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