A Past District Governor and District Rotary Foundation Chair, Karl Diekman began his Rotary experience in 1982 when he joined the Rotary Club of Belleair Bluffs, FL. Karl has been President of three Rotary Clubs and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Woodland, CA. Karl was awarded The Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service and today, Karl's Rotary experience is enhanced by being a member of the CADRE and a Board Member of the Health Education and Wellness Rotary Action Group (HEWRAG). As a Major Donor and Paul Harris Society member Karl enjoys the privilege of supporting the many good projects of Rotarians around the world. Since 2013, Karl has worked with Rotarians, NGO’s and health agencies around the globe to design and implement cervical cancer prevention projects, and recently he was a participant in the World Health Organization process that led to the adoption in November 2020 of a global policy to “Eliminate Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem”.
Cervical Cancer is a Public Health Problem?
That is what the World Health Organization (WHO) declared last year when it
adopted a plan to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem. WHO conducted
consultations in its various regions to receive member input in the draft policy. I was fortunate in that I found myself a participant at the consultation for the Pan American
region that was held at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Headquarters
in Washington, D.C. last year. It was quite an experience to witness the careful
attention that health officials, scientists, regulators, and others gave to the issue of
I was especially impressed with the scientific analysis of the issues and the follow up with carefully thought out solutions to real problems. As an invitee, I was able to participate in the discussion and to describe the challenges Rotarians face as they work to implement cervical cancer prevention projects.
I learned a few things worth sharing.
Immunization is a key strategy to preventing cervical cancer and a number of other cancers derived from HPV infections, but there are significant challenges, the principal of which is a shortage of vaccine now and for the foreseeable future.
Examinations of women for the HPV lesions that lead to cervical cancer remain a challenge because of a shortfall in resources needed for examinations. Fortunately, this is an easier challenge because HPV genetic testing is rapidly advancing, and most women can be screened without going through a physical examination. There are challenges to overcome, but one can easily imagine how many more women can be examined when 70% can be prescreened with a simple swab.
Treatment of HPV-caused precancerous lesions is getting simpler through the introduction of new technologies that are producing the instruments that make thermocoagulation a less costly and less cumbersome substitute for cryotherapy. I have mentioned improvements in testing and treatment, but these are what may be referred to as the tip of the spear. People are working around the world to solve the issues with vaccine, to create new technologies, and to raise awareness.
As Rotarians we have the ability to help our healthcare providers make the elimination of cervical cancer a reality by raising awareness, supporting training programs, and equipping clinics.
For assistance in developing a cervical cancer prevention project in your community,
contact Karl Diekman, HEWRAG Director, [email protected]