Sandra Yvonne Oketch has been working with Dr. Megan Huchko and the FACES team the Nyanza Region of western Kenya for the past ten years. She has 10 years’ work experience in both health research and program set up in maternal reproductive health and HIV/ AIDS care and prevention. She started as a Clinical and Community Health Advisor at FACES, where she became interested in the cervical cancer screening and prevention program. After going back to school to complete her degree, she is now the study coordinator of a cluster randomized trial testing two implementation strategies for HPV testing. Her roles include managing the study team, partnering with the reproductive health team to implement study activities and evaluating some of the study data. The work of enrolling and following up almost ten thousand women is not without challenges. In addition to the inherent challenges of coordinating a study that size, Oketch has had to deal with flooding, flyaway tents, political upheaval and roads being washed away. She remains passionate about her work, and states that some of the favorite aspects include “gathering and evaluating data to get an in depth understanding of the women’s needs and their general experiences while seeking health care services and getting their thoughts and opinions on how to improve these services.”

Prior to joining the study, she worked with SEARCH, Sustainable East African Research in community health which is a community level cluster randomized trial aimed in rapid scale up of HIV testing working as the Home based testing coordinator. She has also worked in a randomized control study of a text messaging intervention aimed to improve the uptake of Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, PMTCT and worked in the FACES, Family AIDS care and Education Services program that provides HIV care and prevention and reproductive health services, mainly cervical cancer screening and family planning. She holds a BA in Sociology and MPH from Maseno University. Oketch says “I am passionate about my work because it provides an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the women through promotion of maternal health with a main focus on cervical cancer screening and prevention. Interacting with these women has exposed me to various kinds of maternal health needs.”

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