May 2022 Director’s Message

May 2022 Director’s Message

May is a time of growth and excitement, from magnolia blooms and longer, warmer days to the celebrations popping up around campus. Along with the inherent optimism of spring on Duke’s campus, it feels that we are starting to sense what life in a more stable peri-Covid world will look like. For many, getting together in person to celebrate events and achievements, or even just to brainstorm in the same room, is a salve after these past two years. Graduation and summer opportunities provide a blank canvas for new experiences and adventures for students. This year’s graduating class spent much of their time at Duke in conditions altered by the pandemic, and yet most of the ones that I have worked with have not let that hinder their ambition or achievements. Their resilience, flexibility and grace will serve them well. In fact, the confluence of the pandemic and the national reckoning with race and racism that has so profoundly impacted...
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Hybrid GRH

Our paper, “Uptake and correlates of cervical cancer screening among women attending a community-based multi-disease health campaign in Kenya,” is published in the BMC Women’s Health. In this paper, we describe the acceptability and uptake of a model of integrated HPV-based cervical cancer screening as part of a series of multi-disease community health campaigns offered in Kisumu, Kenya. We also describe the prevalence and predictors of both screening and positive HPV results among women attending these campaigns. Although there is an increased risk of cervical cancer among women living with HIV, many HIV-care programs do not offer integrated cervical cancer screening. To address the cervical cancer screening gap in Kenya, we leveraged the community health campaigns facilitated by the Family AIDS Care & Education Services and provided multi-disease testing to achieve a high population coverage for HIV-testing and HPV-based cervical cancer screening in western Kenya, an area with high rates of HIV. In addition to HIV testing, the campaigns provided screening...
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International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s Day 2022

Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day which is also the fourth anniversary of the Center for Global Reproductive Health at Duke.  This year’s theme for IWD is #BreaktheBias, challenging people to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality. The United Nations is convening a series of events to highlight the link between gender, social equity and climate change, and call for more women’s voices to call for gender transformative solutions to the climate crisis.  The UN published a series of articles and resources about this year’s theme, and ways in which people everywhere can get involved and have their voices heard. The Economist has compiled a series of articles on women around the world, Twitter is alight with stories about how organizations are working toward equity and celebrated women, and Duke highlighted the work of leading women around campus. Happy International Women’s Day—add your own voice to this important day!...
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Director’s Blog February 2022

Director’s Blog February 2022

The new year often inspires us to reflect on our goals and priorities, an endeavor supported by a series of opportunities to recognize, learn about and celebrate different events and people. January was Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, including International Women’s Day on March 8. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreaktheBias, offering to challenge various the biases people face around the world, including gender and race. The subjects explored over these months are all central to the work of the Center, and among other things, illustrate the impact of marginalization and discrimination on health outcomes. The intersection of race, gender and reproductive health is perhaps best shown by the experience of Henrietta Lacks, the Black woman whose cervical cancer cells gave rise to the immortal “HeLa” cell line. HeLa cells have played an extraordinary role in scientific research, underlying multiple Nobel Prize-winning discoveries and enabling medical advances for...
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Director’s Blog October 2021

Director’s Blog October 2021

In my last blog, written as we were celebrating graduation and Covid numbers were falling, I challenged readers to think about lessons from the pandemic and plan for a new and improved post-pandemic world. In retrospect, that optimism was clearly a little premature. As the Delta variant swept through the country, it not only changed the timeline on any return to “normalcy,” it changed expectations that there would be a post-Covid world. The challenge became learning to live and thrive in a world with Covid. As classes are in full swing, and we’ve already passed the halfway mark for the semester, Duke students, staff and faculty have readily embraced the measures that allow us to teach and learn in person: masks, vaccinations and testing. Midterms are over, basketball is coming back to Cameron in a way that keeps everyone safe and crazy, and we are seeing more in person events that bring people together. One event that brought together large numbers...
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Director’s Blog May 2021

Director’s Blog May 2021

Amid the familiar bursts of color and warm breezes that call us back outdoors for another glorious North Carolina spring, there are signs of a return to a pre-pandemic way of life. In light of increasing vaccinations and decreasing case numbers, Governor Cooper lifted the mask mandate at the beginning of May, with a plan to end most of the Covid-related restrictions in June. Duke was able to hold an in-person graduation, and is committed to having all students back on campus in the fall. So, while there is still a long road ahead of us, it’s reassuring to see some tangible plans for a return to normalcy. As we start to recover from the pandemic, this quarter’s newsletter focuses on what true healing looks like. Although everyone’s experience was unique, the pandemic undoubtedly brought some loss to all of us, whether in the form of isolation, missed opportunities, or, for too many of us, the loss of family or loved...
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Director’s Blog March 2021

Director’s Blog March 2021

Today, March 8, is the International Women’s Day (IWD) a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It’s also the date that the Duke Center for Global Reproductive Health launched three years ago. This year’s theme for IWD is #choosetochallenge. Reflecting not only the immense challenges of the past year, but many of the longstanding gender and other biases that impact our world, the organizers have called on people around the world to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality while seeking out and celebrating women’s achievements. You can join the challenge here. Gender bias alone is not the only challenge impacting women’s health, health equity and equal participation in the workforce. February and March are Black history and Women’s history months, respectively. This past February, twenty leading health organizations released a statement designating February 28 and March 1 as dates to acknowledge the three enslaved women, Betsey, Lucy and Anarcha, who were experimented...
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Launch of the Kisumu Cervical Cancer Alliance Website

Launch of the Kisumu Cervical Cancer Alliance Website

On Thursday, January 14, the Kisumu Cervical Cancer Alliance held a Zoom meeting to review current plans and status of cervical cancer prevention in the region, and to launch their new website: www.kisumucanceralliance.org. The KCCA was started approximately three years ago to harmonize and increase the impact of cervical cancer prevention efforts among health care systems, non-profit organizations and government programs. Their mission is to “create an alliance of partners and stakeholder working to improve cancer screening, treatment and rehabilitation services in Kisumu County.” The website will serve as a resource for people interested in learning more about screening and vaccination and for women diagnosed with cervical cancer. Partners working in cervical cancer can share their work, and learn more about what control efforts in the region. The Kisumu first lady, Dorothy Nyongo, who has been a powerful advocate in cancer control for the region, was in attendance. She lauded the work, stating that “despite Covid, she is proud that...
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Director’s Blog December 2020

Director’s Blog December 2020

The past eight months have been a time of unexpected and often stressful changes as we navigate life with Covid-19 amidst a period of social and political unrest in this country. As the year comes to a close, we’ve chosen to focus this newsletter on the changes we’ve experienced over the past semester—what we’ll keep, what we’ve learned and how this has been a powerful catalyst for our work.  At this stage in the pandemic, the changes that felt temporary have become engrained into our daily lives—it’s natural to grab a mask before leaving the house, standing six feet away is the norm and it’s assumed that when we set up a meeting, it will be by Zoom.  While most of us can’t wait to resume more normalcy in our social and personal lives, some of these necessary changes have turned out to have unexpected benefits. Personally, I get to see my kids a lot more than I did before...
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October 2020 Director’s Message: Let’s make 2020 count, while it lasts

October 2020 Director’s Message: Let’s make 2020 count, while it lasts

When I wrote my last newsletter, Covid had sent students home for the rest of the spring semester, and many in the reproductive health community were wondering whether and how to engage in advocacy during the pandemic. In the past five months, Covid has transformed from a time-limited public health emergency, into our daily public health reality. Duke has settled into a new normal with a transformed campus life, including more social distancing, online and hybrid classrooms and an active surveillance program for faculty, staff and students. Our teams in Kenya and Uganda have used the research pause to strengthen their relationships with the local partners in sexual and reproductive health, mental health and cancer care, utilizing zoom workshops and webinars to build their networks and develop strategies to reimagine health care for the Covid and post-Covid era. Similarly, Blue Devils have risen to the occasion. Students have worked hard to engage online, balancing the new demands of masking, social...
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