Cancer

Helping Peruvian Women Access Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment

A woman waiting with her children to be seen for cervical cancer screening during a health outreach campaign. Photo by Joanna Wagner.
A woman waiting with her children to be seen for cervical cancer screening during a health outreach campaign. Photo by Joanna Wagner.

Through a collaboration with Peruvian medical organization CerviCusco and global medical technology company BD, thousands of women living in the isolated mountain regions of Peru are able to access cervical cancer prevention, screening, and treatment for the first time.

As part of a multi-year commitment, this fall, BD sent 11 of its employees to Cusco, Peru to provide senior level expertise to help strengthen CerviCusco’s work to save the lives of women by preventing cervical cancer.

The trip – one of two this year – was the culmination of four months of work by 11 BD employees who volunteered to aid CerviCusco in the areas of communications, marketing and business development, LEAN lab business processes, information technology, and medical services.

Their work is much-needed in Peru, where women have one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world. This is especially true for women who live in the rural mountain regions of the country as they lack the financial means and geographic access to preventive health care. The majority of Peruvian women with cervical cancer are diagnosed at advanced stages when treatment options are limited and survival rates poor.

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Team photo with BD, Direct Relief, and CerviCusco representatives.

Additionally, laboratories are hindered by absent quality control and uniform standards, lack of properly trained personnel and inadequate materials and supplies. Because of a lack of properly trained providers, women frequently receive overly aggressive treatment of precancerous disease.

That’s why projects, supported by BD’s volunteer team, included implementing an electronic medical records system; planning a new laboratory build-out; improving current operational lab processes; developing a business plan for long-term sustainability; and developing a new website and collateral marketing and communications materials.  The team was also accompanied by two health providers who assisted in rural outreach screening campaigns and patient follow-up visits.

The BD Volunteer Service Trip highlights the benefits of collaboration between the private sector and nonprofits to improve and strengthen health systems in areas that are not typically market viable, but that are integral to delivering care to those who otherwise would not have access.

BD is partnering with Direct Relief over the next two years to build upon the work done this year with future volunteer trips to further facilitate work done by the dedicated staff at CerviCusco in their mission to deliver sustained cervical cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment to the Andean communities of Peru.

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Peruvian women waiting to be seen for cervical cancer screening during a health outreach campaigns. Photo by Joanna Wagner.
Paulina Ospina, Senior Program Manager

Paulina Ospina joined Direct Relief in 2009 with prior work experience in the pharmaceutical industry and clinical research. Paulina’s background is in public health and she has worked with underserved populations in primary care clinics both abroad and in the United States. Paulina is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Direct Relief’s Replenishment Program which provides an alternative to traditional Patient Assistance Programs for safety net clinics to access medication for their uninsured, low-income patients. Fluent in Spanish, Paulina holds a Master in Health Science in international health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health as well as a B.A. in biological anthropology and anatomy from Duke University and an M.A. in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a certified clinical research coordinator and a member of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.

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