By Susan Cotton, Board Chair
Executive Director Anielka Medina, Medical Advisor/Board Member Dr. Alvaro Garcia and I attended the World Congress of the International Federation of Cervical Pathology and Colposcopy this spring. It may not sound like a lot of fun, but we loved being there learning from health leaders who are making a profound difference for women around the world.
The conference demonstrated why the WHO considers cervical cancer a “case study in health equity.” While participants from the US, Australia and Europe discussed the impacts of the HPV vaccine, HPV testing and the application of new technologies to eradicate cervical cancer completely in these countries, those of us working in low-resource countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America focused on cancer screening and treatment options that can be done without electricity or gas, and delivering health services for women who have no access to health care. 85% of women dying from cervical cancer come from one of these low resource countries, so adoption of simple innovations which overcome health barriers will improve the lives of millions of women and their families.
We consider Lily’s delivery model an example of a simple innovation designed to overcome the limitations of Nicaragua’s under-resourced health system - where less 10% of women have access to preventive health care. In health care it is hard to be simple. Yet that’s what it takes to bring care to women who live beyond the reach of traditional health clinics. The Lily Project deploys 3-person mobile health clinics that travel to remote villages, equipped with a ‘pop-up’ exam room, folding gynecological exam table and medical supplies. The clinic requires no electricity and is set up in minutes, typically in a school, church or home. Not only is it designed to make examinations possible in difficult settings, it also offers women privacy and peace of mind during the exam – often her first health care experience.
Check out the Lily team as they set up a clinic http://bit.ly/2sQqG9N in a remote village in the coffee-growing region of Nicaragua. This one-day event served more than 70 women who would otherwise go without preventive health services. A nice day of work!
The Lily Project, a women’s health NGO in Nicaragua, improves the lives of women and girls through a women-centered model of care and development. Lily’s mobile health clinics care for the whole woman - providing cervical cancer screening and treatment, reproductive and sexual health education, trauma counseling, and community building. Learn more: thelilyproject.org