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.