Target: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention, World Health Organization, and Gynecologist to the Royal Family of Thailand, Dr. Kobchitt Limpaphayon
Goal: Recognize this low-tech innovation that’s helping keep the number one cancer killer of women at bay.
Among women, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in the world. According to the WHO, it remains the most preventable and treatable cancer. However, the main method of screening known as the Pap smear requires that samples from a woman’s cervix be analyzed in labs, which can be scarce in low-income countries and hard to access for women in rural areas who must travel long distances to get tested. Results can take weeks, giving time for precancerous lesions to develop.
Given WHO estimates that 88% of cervical cancer cases occur in low to middle income countries, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s innovative use of vinegar to screen for lesions is quite a breakthrough. The common household item is brushed on a woman’s cervix and causes the lesions –caused by the sexually transmitted infection the human papilloma virus – to turn white and become visible to the naked eye. According to the New York Times, the wart-like lesions can then be frozen off with cryotherapy, using a metal probe cooled by a bottle of carbon dioxide “available from any Coca-Cola bottling plant.”
Endorsed by the World Health Organization, the Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention has helped take VIA/cryo (visualization of the cervix with acetic acid and treatment with cryotherapy) to developing nations. Likewise, Dr. Limpaphayon has helped start Johns Hopkins’ program for International Gynecology and Obstetrics, opening free public clinics and convincing the conservative Parliament of Thailand to accept the screening method over the preferred Pap smear and to train nurses in cryotherapy, a procedure reserved previously for doctors. Coupled with vaccination and sexual education, such screening methods are invaluable in reducing disease and bringing cost-effective health care to low-income countries.
By signing the petition below, you can thank this group of health professionals and dedicated volunteers for their life-saving innovations and commitment to health for all communities.
Dear Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention, World Health Organization, and Gynecologist to the Royal Family of Thailand, Dr. Kobchitt Limpaphayon,
I would like to commend you on your pioneering use of vinegar to screen for cervical cancer and cryotherapy as treatment in the method known as VIA/cryo. As cervical cancer cases disproportionately occur in low to middle income countries, I applaud your cost-effective approach to curbing this most treatable and preventable of cancers and combating what has become a fatal health disparity.
Following through on your ingenuity, you demonstrate a deep understanding of the obstacles to proper screening in developing nations, some of which include the scarcity of labs to analyze Pap smear test results and those labs’ typical inaccessibility to women living or working long distances away. Your efforts to open free, local public clinics coupled with your empowerment of nurses to train in conducting the screenings are truly inspiring.
Such a monumental task as controlling the second most common cancer in the world among women requires the intellect, collaboration, and investment of various persons at every level. Thank you for your collective contributions to both medical science and public health. Fighting to protect women’s health, sometimes in the face of great opposition, your teamwork has saved lives, and I hope many more to come.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Megan Lavelle via Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom at wilpf.org