Cancer Prevention in Sidama


Any roaster or green buyer who’s been to origin knows that coffee-growing communities are rarely rich in infrastructure. Up in the mountains, often far from low country capitals, rural coffee communities end up with the loose change left at the end of government budgets for transportation, communication, and, maybe most critically, medical projects. That’s certainly true of Sidama in Ethiopia.

Grounds for Health, the medical organization focused on screening for and treating cervical cancer in coffee communities, has recently begun a new project in Sidama. As part of the program, Grounds for Health launched a fundraising drive aimed at roasters. If you’ve ever been charmed by coffee from that near mythical region (and I’ve written before that Sidama has wooed more coffee professionals than most any other) this is your opportunity to do some real good for the people who grow mind-blowing coffee.

Jane Dale, Grounds for Health’s development director, says, “There’s a huge need in Africa for cervical cancer prevention. They have some of the highest death rates in the world. It’s not for any other reason than there is not an organized process for screening.”

What this means for Grounds for Health’s projects is that they focus on developing the skill sets of a region’s medical professionals. The project isn’t designed to screen a finite number of women in a finite amount of time. Rather, the project promotes and conducts screenings that double as clinical training for doctors, nurses, and midwifes, teaching them the World Health Organization’s cervical cancer screening protocol. Since starting in 1996, Grounds for Health has trained 400 medical professionals who will have this skill for their entire careers.

The project does more than this. One of the health centers they’re working with has no access to water. They’re going to fix that.

The fundraiser for this project has a nice bit of competition layered on. Called the East vs. West Roasters Challenge, the roasters on either side of the Mississippi River to raise the most cash for Sidama. Royal Coffee in California and Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee in Massachusetts have each slapped down $25,000 to kick off the challenge.

Making it even sweeter, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon will match all donations.

The goal is $200,000 from roasters, matched dollar-for-dollar. You’ve got ’til Mother’s Day to hit that goal.

Cory Eldridge is Fresh Cup’s editor. Photo courtesy of Grounds for Health. In it, a group of women wait for a screening as part of this project.