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Dr. Isabel Scarinci Receives Rotary Honor for Cervical Cancer Elimination Project 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.

Dr. Isabel Scarinci, member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham and senior advisor for Globalization and Cancer, O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Alabama at Birmingham, was named one of six Rotary People of Action: Champions of Health for her effort to address cervical cancer in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Scarinci’s Cervical Cancer Elimination project aims to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Sri Lanka. This will be achieved by vaccinating girls against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) at age 10 through a 2-dose regimen, 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 platform that can be disseminated to 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,” said Dr. Scarinci. “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.”

“COVID-19 shows us how important a strong healthcare system is,” said Rotary International President Holger Knaack. “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. 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 at UAB, The Rotary Club of Colombo (Sri Lanka), Ashok Leyland Company and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health.

Rotary is a membership organization that brings together people of action from all continents and cultures who deliver real, long-term solutions to the world’s most persistent issues. Rotary members develop and implement sustainable projects that fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water, support education, save mothers and children, grow local economies and protect the environment.

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 36,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit Rotary.org.