Dr. Isabel Scarinci, senior adviser for globalization and cancer at UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, was named one of six Rotary People of Action: Champions of Health for her effort to address cervical cancer in Sri Lanka.
With less than half of the global population receiving essential health services, Rotary members are taking action to connect those in need to life-saving treatment and disease prevention while helping to strengthen community health systems.
Scarinci’s project aims to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Sri Lanka by vaccinating girls against the human papilloma virus at age 10 and screening women for cervical cancer at ages 35 and 45 with HPV DNA testing.
The project aims to improve the capacity of local health care professionals, promote disease prevention and treatment programs that limit the spread of communicable diseases and reduce the incidence and effect of non-communicable diseases. By developing a replicable training model for midwives, the project strengthens Sri Lanka’s health care system and can serve as a pilot plan that can be used in other countries.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by Rotary for my work to help eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem,” Scarinci, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham, said. “But what’s most important is that this award helps bring attention to a disease that should not be as prevalent as it is. Cervical cancer is a preventable disease, yet it is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Raising awareness of this fact will save lives by helping to inform women everywhere that there is screening to protect themselves and a vaccine to protect their daughters from this devastating disease.”
Rotary International President Holger Knaack said COVID-19 had demonstrated the importance of having strong health care systems.
“Treating and preventing disease is one of Rotary’s top causes. I am inspired by our members who are helping millions of our most vulnerable receive essential health services,” Knaack said. “With local knowledge, skills and innovative thinking, our six Champions of Health are strengthening health care systems and helping more people gain access to care in the long term.”
The Cervical Cancer Elimination Project is a partnership between the Rotary Club of Birmingham, O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Rotary Club of Colombo (Sri Lanka), Ashok Leyland Company and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health.