Empowering Prevention of Cervical Cancer: Women-inspired Strategies for Health (WISH) (2020-2021)


Worldwide, more than one billion women face sexual and reproductive healthcare gaps with profound consequences to their families and communities. Cervical cancer – a completely preventable disease – exemplifies this crisis. Over 500,000 women will get cervical cancer each year, and 1.5 million women will die prematurely over the next five years.

Screening followed by treatment has lowered cervical cancer incidence in the U.S. by 70 percent; however, the situation is vastly different in low- and middle-income countries. Many women lack access to screening as well as knowledge of prevention and treatment. Far too many women suffer from stigma and shame.

In Peru, giving women control over the first step of the screening process through home testing for HPV – the virus that causes cervical cancer – has increased screening coverage by more than 60 percent in six months. The Callascope is an award-winning invention developed by one of the team leaders that allows a woman to perform her own visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA). VIA combined with HPV testing will reduce facility visits by more than 90 percent and allow 98 out of every 100 women screened to complete care at home. Together, the Callascope and self-HPV test puts the entire screening process in the hands of women.

Project Description

Leveraging strong relationships in Peru, this project will complement ongoing efforts to deploy innovative women-centered technologies for home-based screening with the efficacy of screening done in health facilities. The project team will focus on three components: storytelling as a way to empower women to take control of their health; cost-effectiveness of interventions with respect to traditional models of care; and a policy framework for in-country adoption of the model.

Breaking down shame and stigma, and allowing women to lead the way to improved individual and community health, the team will use the results of its activities to influence the policy change and payment reform needed to shift from activity-based health system financing to a system that supports the provision of health services in the communities where women live.

Team members will begin by gaining a deep understanding of cervical cancer and global health disparities as well as the technological developments to democratize access to healthcare and screening. Other focus areas include healthcare systems and challenges in Peru, oral history, cost-effectiveness analysis and policy analysis. The team will then turn to the creation of specific tools around storytelling, stakeholder interviews and time-motion analysis for costing, which selected team members will implement in Cajamarca, Peru.

Anticipated Outputs

Archive of women’s stories; costing model; policy framework and analysis


Fall 2020 – Summer 2021

  • Fall 2020:  Overview of technological innovations for cervical cancer, healthcare systems, current costs and policies in Peru; overview of oral history collection; frameworks and processes for tools
  • Spring 2021: Literature review; external speakers; methodology for project’s three components to be used for fieldwork in Peru
  • Summer 2021 (optional): Selected students travel to Peru to continue policy, costing and oral history aspects of project

Team Outputs to Date

“Failing Black Mothers” and the Non-Consensual Origins of Gynecology

Teaching From My Kitchen Table: Education in Trying Times

WISH Costing Team

Inspired by Women in 2020: End of Year Recap of WISH

Cervical Cancer Team: Developing Interventions for Cervical Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

This Team in the News

Reimagining the Gynecological Exam

Engineering a Revolution in Women's Health

Announcing the 2020 ReMed Fellows (Margaret Gaw)

“Cervical Cancer Revolution” Proposal Among Top 100 for MacArthur $100 Million Grant

See related team, Empowering Prevention of Cervical Cancer: Women-inspired Strategies for Health (WISH) (2021-2022).


Image: Mercy Asiedu and Julia Agudogo hold the Callascope.


Team Leaders

  • Patricia Garcia, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
  • Wesley Hogan, Franklin Humanities Institute
  • Nimmi Ramanujam, Pratt School of Engineering-Biomedical Engineering

/graduate Team Members

  • Diana Carolina Quintero, International Dev Policy
  • Maria Connearn Diaz, Masters of Public Policy
  • Jessica LaLonde, Mech Engg/Materials Sci-PHD
  • Diana Ramirez Guzman, MIDP 2 Year Masters

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Tamira Daniely
  • Caroline Doherty, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Margaret Gaw, English (AB)
  • Khue Huynh, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Fatima Massare Somers
  • Elizabeth Maydew, Biology (BS)
  • Karina Moreno Bueno, Biology (BS), Global Health (AB2)
  • Rachel Mundaden, Biology (BS), Global Health (AB2)
  • Natalie Rincon, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Rhea Tejwani, Computer Science (BS)
  • Ruhama Tereda, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Helen Williams, Interdepartmental Major

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Libby Dotson, Pratt School of Engineering-Biomedical Engineering
  • Andrea Thoumi, Margolis Center for Health Policy

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
  • HOPE Initiative