Evah Maina has made it her life’s work to reach unreachable women in Kenya. As the program coordinator for Grounds for Health in Kenya, she helps provide them with the preventative healthcare they often desperately need. This program provides screening and treatment services for cervical cancer in women who live predominantly in coffee-growing regions. A portion of the proceeds from Pure Origin‘s Kenyan coffee goes towards supporting the project and the women it benefits.
These women are almost exclusively in some of the most remote regions of the country. In these areas, women are usually unable to access healthcare, and Maina says 85 percent of cancer deaths usually occur in these situations. Moreover, most of these deaths are preventable with simple screenings and tests. As a result, Grounds for Health set out to combat the lack of resources and screenings for the women of Kenya.
“These women do not have access to preventative services, so we are working to change this as an organization,” Maina said.
Grounds for Health
Grounds for Health was founded in 1996 by Dan Cox, who was serving as a president of a coffee company. Dr. Francis Fote, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, joined him in his efforts. According to the project’s website, they have treated 10,205 women across the world and screened 124,641.
“One of the doctors at the regional health department thanked us and said we have accomplished more here in a few days than they could have accomplished in a few years,” Maina said. “We are among one of the Nyeri County health department success stories.”
Maina has years of experience as a nurse and a nursing manager in both private and public health facilities. Additionally, she has also worked with national and international NGOs in the past. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and Public Health and a Master’s degree in Public Reproductive Health. Maina even boasts a postgraduate diploma in project management.
“What I like most about being part of this project is the success stories you get from the field and the joy of knowing you are saving so many women from cervical cancer and its debilitating effects, health-wise, emotionally, socially, and economically,” Maina said. “Most of the women who get screened would have never have gotten the chance to get screened and treated.”
Maina said it is especially important to act quickly when it comes to cervical cancer. Unfortunately, this can traditionally be problematic for women in distant areas of Kenya.
“If you have visited a hospital and experienced cervical cancer patients in a streamlined public healthcare system such as us, you would know what it means to screen and treat a woman on the same day, before precancerous lesions become cancer,” she said.
Daily Outreach and Screening
Day-to-day, Grounds for Health provides participating health facilities with cryotherapy and treatment devices, as well as necessary supplies. Similarly, the project spreads word about screening and treatment possibilities throughout the country in order to increase its impact.
A typical work day for Maina includes giving health education about cervical cancer and the screening process for it. This is usually done in an outpatient department of a participating health center. Secondly, she conducts screenings and gives clinical mentorship to healthcare providers they have trained. Additionally, they take images for remote review and quality assurance by a clinical director in the U.S. Lastly, they also meet with Nyeri County health officers to share problems and solve problems on a unified front.
As a result of her work and the work of others, Grounds for Health has made massive strides in outreach and cervical cancer prevention. Similarly, awareness of screenings and resources is at an all-time high in the country.
“Since I became a part of Grounds for Health, my life has changed in a positive way by making positive change for the project beneficiaries, reaching one woman at a time,” she said. “The ability to understand cervical cancer screening and treatment gaps and being able to bridge them in an increasing number of facilities is a game changer. The satisfaction of knowing that women are getting quality screenings and the right diagnosis is our pride as a project.”
Maina said the greatest satisfaction she gets from her work is seeing the difference she helps make for Kenyan women.
“It feels great, being a part of a project like this,” she said. “After we screen a woman and they leave and pass me in the hall, they smile as they go to their homes. Their smiles make me very happy. We feel we are very important members of the community and society at large. We bring positive change to the most deserving communities which are resource-constrained.”
Additionally, Maina made a point to thank everyone who has contributed to her mission thus far.
“It has been a humbling experience, and we can’t thank our donors enough,” she said. “We are full of gratitude; thank you for helping our women.”
You can support Maina’s work at Grounds for Health by purchasing the Pure Origin Kenyan coffee. A portion of every sale goes towards the philanthropic efforts in Kenya.
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