From John Adams
June 29, 2011
Rhoda and John arrived back in India on June 26, and immediately began preparations for the two very important cervical cancer initiatives here in Puttaparthi (Andhra Pradesh) and in Mysore. It is a little strange to be in Puttaparthi, now that Sri Sathya Sai Baba has left the body (April 24). There are very few people around and the shopkeepers, porters, and others who rely on a steady coming and going of devotees are becoming desperate! The owner of Sai Towers Hotel tells us that his bookings are picking up again from about the middle of July, when Gurupurnima, a major Hindu holiday, takes place. By then, the tomb being built for Sai Baba's remains in the main darshan hall will be completed and the theme of "continuity" will ensure that all programs and rituals will be carried out as before. We all assume that the ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam, will become a major pilgrimage site for spiritual seekers of all kinds.
The Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital gynecology section has already been certified in the PINCC VIA protocols and in use of Cryo and LEEP procedures. During this camp (1-5 July) Dr. Rhoda will be reviewing and helping the certified physicians to "brush up" on their knowledge and skills, and also begin the training for some additional SSSMH volunteer physicians. John will be inaugurating a quality assurance process for this program, so that they can self monitor and engage in continuous learning and continuous improvement.
On the drive down from Puttaparthi to Mysore for the third PHRII (Public Health Research Institute of India) cervical cancer camp, we will be stopping in Bengaluru to meet the CEO of Infosys. We hope to get his company's involvement and support in the "The Centre of Excellence for Cancer Prevention in Women" that we want to create through our collaboration with PHRII. During our stay in Mysore, we will also be meeting with the local Rotary club for the second time, seeking their support. We are also attempting to get the Rotary Wives Club involved to advocate for cervical cancer screening for all women in the area. Less than 5% of all Indian women (2.3% in the villages) ever have a single cervical cancer screening in their lifetimes.
While Rhoda is engaged in the third clinic with our Mysore trainees, John will begin rolling out our QA process here as well. (Contact John if you would like to see the items we are going to be investigating for quality assurance). This third camp is to be held at the JSS Hospital / Medical College -- our third venue in Mysore. By the end of this visit, we will have carried out PINCC clinics in a catholic hospital, a government hospital, and a private hospital. More networking for the future!
Also in Mysore, we will be meeting with the District Health Officer and other key stakeholders at the various Mysore medical colleges and teaching hospitals and will once again be hosting a Stakeholders' Dinner on our last evening in town. Our vision is to create a network of involvement that includes the local medical colleges, civic associations, and health-related government agencies.
Our volunteers on this trip are Dr. Rashmi Murthy, who volunteered previously on a PINCC Central America camp, and her mother Mytri Murthy. Dr. Shobha Krishnan, a professor at Columbia University, will also join us in Mysore. She has been engaged in VIA screening through her own program in northern India and also in Chennai. We are looking forward to also finding ways to synergize our programs with hers during this trip. India is so huge, and the need is so great, that we need to rapidly find ways to scale up before the cost of coming here becomes too high! 25% of all cervical cancer deaths in the world each year are in India (Globocan 2008), and there is at present no coordination of efforts and no center for rapidly building local capacities to address this huge challenge.
So all in all, we have a lot on our plates beyond running two PINCC-India camps. We will be much clearer by the time we leave about the future directions of PINCC-India! Progress reports will follow! Everyone who reads this -- please send good thoughts for successes!