Today, the world has the knowledge and tools to save tens of thousands of women coffee farmers from a preventable death. Put simply, no woman should die of cervical cancer. This preventable disease kills more than 275,000 women every year, with the vast majority occurring in the developing world. Projections show that by 2030, as many as 500,000 women could die annually.
Coffee just happens to grow in remote areas of the world where access to preventive health services is slim to none. In most coffee-growing countries, cervical cancer kills more women than any other cancer, more than even childbirth and pregnancy. Cervical cancer is taking its toll on the economics and livelihood of the coffee industry.
However, this is not a foregone conclusion, and the Specialty Coffee Industry has had the foresight and conviction to do something about it. Since 1996, the industry has supported the work of Grounds for Health and its ongoing mission to establish sustainable cervical cancer prevention programs in coffee-growing communities.
This ongoing effort has taught Grounds for Health a great deal about what works and what doesn’t. In recent years, one thing in particular has made the non-profit’s success unique: the strength of coffee communities and the importance of getting them involved in all aspects of prevention programs.
Through Grounds for Health’s guidance, coffee communities in Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Tanzania have been able to break down barriers that stand between women and life-saving preventive services. Co-ops provide transportation. Community health promoters educate friends and neighbors. Also, local doctors and nurses administer effective screening and treatment methods that have been proven to make a difference.
Grounds for Health wants to share its lessons learned with the world, and the global health community is ready to listen. On May 27, 2013, Grounds for Health helped unveil the “Call for Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention” at the Global Forum on Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This call to action has been signed by thousands of policy makers and its adoption shows that the world is at a tipping point: we’re ready to stop a major killer of women.
At the Women Deliver Conference, also in Kuala Lumpur, Grounds for Health Executive Director, August Burns gave a well-received presentation on community involvement and its importance to the success and sustainability of cervical cancer prevention programs. Burns highlighted the essential role of the community in creating effective cervical cancer prevention programs, and that in order for programs to have a meaningful and lasting impact, community engagement must be seen as a critical component on equal footing to prevention technologies.
The call for community engagement is part of Grounds for Health’s continued advocacy for “the woman at the end of the road”—a passion that is shared by the organization’s coffee funders and the communities it serves.
The unique partnership between Grounds for Health, coffee communities, and the coffee industry is leading the way towards a future where no woman dies from cervical cancer.
Who benefits from this project?
Grounds for Health’s work directly benefits women in coffee regions, their families, and their communities. Cervical cancer primarily affects women in the prime of lives, ages 40–50, and a woman’s untimely death has widespread repercussions on her family, her work, and her community.
However, Grounds for Health’s advocacy work goes beyond just coffee-growing communities. The lessons learned from community involvement can be applied throughout the world in cervical cancer prevention programs. For example, because of its experience in developing sustainable programs, Grounds for Health was invited to serve as a Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization in creating the new global guidelines on cervical cancer prevention. Grounds for Health have also been asked to present at numerous conferences around the world from Rome, to Washington DC, and even to Kuala Lumpur.
How can I help?
The best way to get involved is to become a supporter of Grounds for Health. Major donors include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Royal Coffee Inc., ECOM Foundation, Monin Gourmet Flavorings, and many more. Become a supporter:
Contact Name: Justin Mool
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Phone Number: 802.241.4146