Scarinci, one of six globally, recognized for providing lifesaving health services and building community health infrastructure

Scarinci’s Cervical Cancer Elimination project aims to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Sri Lanka.

Isabel.2Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D.
(Photography: Steve Wood)
Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D., senior advisor for Globalization and Cancer with the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham, was named one of six Rotary People of Action: Champions of Health for her effort to address cervical cancer in Sri Lanka.

Scarinci’s Cervical Cancer Elimination project aims to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Sri Lanka. This will be achieved by vaccinating girls against the human papilloma virus at age 10 through a two-dose regimen, and screening women for cervical cancer at ages 35 and 45 with HPV DNA testing.

The project aims to improve the capacity of local health care professionals, promote disease prevention and treatment programs that limit the spread of communicable diseases, and reduce the incidence and effects of non-communicable diseases. By developing a replicable training model for midwives, the project strengthens Sri Lanka’s health care system and can serve as a platform that can be disseminated to other countries.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by Rotary for my work to help eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem,” Scarinci said. “But what is most important is this award helps bring attention to a disease that should not be as prevalent as it is. Cervical cancer is a preventable disease, yet it is the second-most-common cancer in women worldwide. Raising awareness of this fact will save lives by helping to inform women everywhere that there is screening to protect themselves and a vaccine to protect their daughters from this devastating disease.”

“COVID-19 shows us how important a strong health care system is,” said Rotary International President Holger Knaack. “Treating and preventing disease is one of Rotary’s top causes. I am inspired by our members who are helping millions of our most vulnerable receive essential health services. With local knowledge, skills and innovative thinking, our six Champions of Health are strengthening health care systems and helping more people gain access to care in the long term.”  

With less than half of the global population receiving essential health services, Rotary members are taking action to connect those in need to lifesaving treatment and disease prevention, while helping to strengthen community health systems.

 “The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center plays an innovative and pivotal role in this effort,” Scarinci said. “We are not only limited to discovery and research, we are making sure that these evidence-based approaches get implemented, particularly in low-resource settings in the U.S. and across the globe.”

The Cervical Cancer Elimination project is a partnership between the Rotary Club of Birmingham, O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, the Rotary Club of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Ashok Leyland Company and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health.