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Cervical Cancer Kills in Coffee Communities, but U.S. Roasters Can Help

cervical cancer ethiopia

Photo by Grounds for Health

Grounds for Health is launching what has the potential to be the biggest fundraising campaign in the nonprofit’s 18-year history fighting preventable cervical cancer deaths in coffee-growing communities. The campaign will directly support the group’s on-the-ground cervical cancer prevention program in Ethiopia, and donations from U.S. roasters are being matched dollar for dollar.

“We’re trying to make a significant measurable impact on this global killer of women,” Grounds for Health Development Director Jane Dale recently told Daily Coffee News. “Cervical cancer has been an underfunded disease, and consequently the death rate is going up, unlike with most diseases.”

Donations from U.S. roasters and other coffee companies will be matched up to $200,000, thanks to a unique partnership with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in its support for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a public-private partnership focused on reducing cancer deaths in Latin America and Africa.

Additionally, Massachusetts-based roaster Dean’s Beans and Emeryville, Calif.-based green coffee importer Royal Coffee have each generously contributed $25,000 to the campaign and to seed the East vs. West Roasters Challenge for Cervical Cancer Prevention. Grounds for Health will monitor donations from U.S. roasteries and create an East vs. West fundraising meter to see which side of the Mississippi has been most supportive. (Full disclosure: Roast Magazine is an additional proud sponsor of the campaign).

“We’re trying to really mobilize the coffee industry because this program will go a long way to lay the groundwork for screening and treatment programs across all rural communities of Ethiopia,” adding that no such direct cervical cancer treatment and prevention programs exist in most of the country’s coffee-producing communities. “Everybody is always paying lip service to direct impact, but here’s a real opportunity to have direct impact.”

Grounds For Health estimates that approximately 13,000 women develop cervical cancer each year, with more than 7,000 dying from the disease. To put that in perspective, the American Society for Clinical Oncology estimates that the five-year survival rate for U.S. women who have an early diagnosis of cervical cancer is more than 90 percent. Grounds for Health says that if this campaign is fully funded, more than 7,300 rural women will be screened, and approximately 550-600 treated for precancerous lesions, by the end of 2015.

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