Sunday, March 9, 2014

International Women's Day-2014

Kick-off of Women's Health Initiative- March 8, 2010. The late Representative Gerandal Thelusma, center right.
Medicine For Peace celebrated International Women’s Day this weekend, and marked the four year anniversary of initiating the Women’s Health Initiative in Haiti. On March 8, 2010, doctors, nurses, and women activists gathered at the Alma Mater Hospital in Gros Morne to kick off an ambitious program to improve women’s health and eradicate cervical cancer, a deadly disease affecting many Haitian women. On that occasion, an impassioned speech by the late Haitian legislator, Gerandal Thelusma, urged women to take control of their own health, and spread the word of cancer prevention to other women in their community.

In the past four years, we have examined more than 3,000 women, including 343 patients with AIDS. We have eradicated pre-cancerous cervical lesions in 261 women using cryosurgery. 19 cases of invasive cervical cancer were found, and a number of these women underwent curative surgery. In addition to cancer detection, we have found and treated 1,050 women with vaginal and urinary tract infections, including detecting 51 new cases of AIDS. 276 women were found to have elevated blood pressure that needed treatment. In an effort to reach women living in remote villages, we developed a mobile health unit that travels to dispensaries in the mountainous northern Artibonite region.

One of the United Nations' Millennium Goals is to “promote gender equality and empower women”. On International Women’s Day we celebrate achievements in obtaining that goal. Also, we recognize the world-wide bias against women in education, in the work force, in political representation, as victims of violence, and in being able to make life choices with regard to marriage and childbearing. Medicine For Peace has always felt that the “right to health” is the first and most necessary prerequisite for women to obtain and enjoy other fundamental human rights.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

3,000 Haitian Women Screened in MFP's Cancer Detection Program

On International Women’s Day 2009, MFP kicked off its Women’s Health Initiative in Gros Morne, Haiti, the centerpiece of which is cervical cancer prevention and treatment. With a dedicated group of Haitian and U.S. health workers, our screening program at the 50 bed Alma Mater Hospital in Gros Morne, and in the rural dispensaries, has been a model for cancer prevention for all of Haiti. In December 2013, Analia Simeon came to our mobile clinic in the small town of Jolivert, an hour north of Gros Morne, for a medical and gynecological examination. Ms. Simeon was the 3,000th women we have screened for cervical cancer, and we were pleased to inform her that she had a completely normal examination.

Sine we initiated the program in 2009, it has been expanded to detect and treat other diseases of women, such as breast cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and other gynecological disorders. Detailed secure records are kept on all patients, and the summary below indicates how successful the program has been:

Achievements of MFP’s Haitian Women’s Health Initiative
3,000 women screened for cervical cancer.        
343 AIDS patients examined.
51 new cases of AIDS detected.
1,050 urinary and vaginal tract infections treated.
276 new cases of hypertension detected.
261 cases of pre-cancer of cervix detected and treated with cryosurgery.
19 cases of invasive cancer detected

Cancer of the cervix is both preventable and curable. However, the disease must be detected and treated in the pre-cancerous stage (dysplasia), or in its early invasive stage. Unfortunately, the majority of the invasive cancers we detected were in a late incurable stage. Only four cancer patients had a successful curative operation. This highlights the importance of our screening program for early cancer in which we detected and successfully treated 261 cases pf pre-cancer of the cervix with cryosurgery.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Board Member Receives Humanitarian Award

                            Dr. Lewis Marshall wearing Humanitarian Award

Founded in 1870, the Paul Lawrence Dunbar School was the first public high school for black Americans in the United States. Because of the pervasive segregation in Washington, D.C. that lasted until the 1960’s, Dunbar High School was blessed with extraordinary educators who were discriminated against and barred  from obtaining positions in other high schools and Universities. Dunbar teachers often had PhD’s in their subject areas.

Dunbar has had many celebrated graduates during its history, including Jean Toomer, poet and novelist, Edward Brooke, the first African-American U.S. Senator, Eleanor Holmes Norton, civil rights activist and representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, Robert Weaver, first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the first African-American Admiral in the U.S. Navy, the first black General in the U.S. Army , and many other distinguished individuals in American life.

In a recent celebration of its newly constructed high school, Dunbar awarded a Humanitarian Award to Dr. Lewis Marshall, noted Washington, D.C. physician and member of the Executive Board of Medicine For Peace. Dr. Marshall has volunteered for MFP in Iraq, Bosnia and Haiti, and has been a driving force on our Board for a number of years. His humanitarian ethic and concern for people without adequate medical care have had a strong influence of MFP’s mission. We congratulate Lew on an honor well deserved.