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

2020 has been an exciting year for our WISH team! We have traveled to Peru, hosted virtual events, and continued to listen to the voices of women as we seek to eradicate cervical cancer.

Today we want to walk you through a timeline of major events that happened this year for the WISH team!

January — February 2020

The MacArthur Foundation selected our “Women-Inspired Strategies for Healthcare (WISH): A Revolution Against Cervical Cancer” among the Top 100 out of 755 proposals. Click here to read our press release about entering the the Top 100 Solutions and joining the Bold Solutions Network.

We want to offer a special thank-you to our partners from the Duke University Foundations Relations Office. Our proposal would not have been possible without many edits from Vera Luck and Alexandra de Havilland.

Our search for funders continues, click here to learn more about ways to be involved in our WISH projects in Peru.

March 2020

We sent a team of Duke undergrad students from Pocket Bass Connections team to Peru to conduct field research including in-depth stakeholder interviews and training for a 20-participant evaluation of the Callascope!

The Bass Connections team in Peru

The Bass Connections team and trip was led by Marlee Krieger, Executive Director for the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies, Libby Dotson, Research Associate at GWHT, and Andrea Thoumi, Research Director at the Margolis Center for Health Policy.

April — July 2020

In early March, Duke’s research operations, like many other institutions, were scaled down to essential tasks only. We spent this time learning about the work and research of our international partners and local collaborators in the midst of the pandemic. Like most, we adjusted to using Zoom for the first time, and what started off as a handful of conversations turned into a series known as WISH talks.

Our GWHT staff members Alexandria Da Ponte, Keny Murillo, and Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam interviewed our collaborators about the following topics:

Policy and Healthcare Delivery

Hope and A Way Forward

Fall Semester 2020

Bass Connections

One of the ways we are continuing towards our goal of eradicating cervical cancer is through a program at Duke University called Bass Connections. Bass Connections is a model for learning that “brings together faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergraduates and external partners to tackle complex societal challenges in interdisciplinary research teams.”

The Bass Connections team, “Empowering Prevention of Cervical Cancer: Women-inspired Strategies for Health” is co-led by WISH Team directors, Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam, Dr. Patty Garcia (Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia and Hope Perú VPH), WISH Collaborator, Dr. Wesley Hogan (Center for Documentary Studies), Andrea Thoumi (Margolis Center for Health Policy) and GWHT staff member, Libby Dotson.

The Bass Connections team is divided into three groups of students who work on specific goals. The teams are: Costing, Policy and Storytelling.

Head to our Fall WISH Newsletter to learn more about the WISH Bass Connections Course.

The Listening and Learning Series

As the Fall Semester began, GWHT staff members, Ashley Deans and Alexandria Da Ponte thought about how the Center should address the tension between a summer of protests and marches in a fight to make people recognize that Black Lives Matter. The two decided that the best way for the Center to approach these issues, was to begin by having some hard conversations.

We started with a blog series: Listening & Learning: Systemic Racism, Racial and Sexual Disparities in Women’s Health. This 9 part series featured the voices of women from Duke University and beyond who shared their vulnerable experiences regarding health care inequities. You can read the full series using the links below.

Part 1: Confronting the Non-Consensual Origins of Gynecology Research

Part 2: Reclamation vs Rejection at the GYN

Part 3: One Size Does NOT Fit All

Part 4: Historical Power Imbalances in Puerto Rican Healthcare and How they Concern Biomedical Engineers

Part 5: Moving Beyond the Movement

Part 6: Who Gets Healthcare and Who Does Not?

Part 7: Opening My Eyes

Part 8: Say it Louder: That was so Weird!

The Hard Numbers and Harder Conversations Series

The blog series gave birth into a panel series: Facing Hard Numbers and Hard Conversations. We hosted the three panels below during the Fall 2020 semester, and plan to continue the series in Spring 2021.

  1. Confronting the Non-Consensual Origins of Gynecology
  2. The Impact of Race and Socioeconomic Status in Women’s Health and Gynecology
  3. Disparities in Healthcare Access for the LGBTQ+ Community
Panelists prepping for “The Impact of Race and Socioeconomic Status in Women’s Health and Gynecology

The blog series and panel series have become some of our most successful communicaiotns materials of 2020, and we are proud to have played a small part in opening the door for conversation on the intersection of racism and healthcare.

Moving Into 2021

In 2020, we saw the ways in which the WISH model can be and is successful:

  • Women-Inspired Technology

Our Listening and Learning blog series reminded us that so many women have been the victims of unethical medical experiments. By giving women the ability to look at their own cervix through a woman-inspired device like the Callascope, we re-imagine the gynecology exam and allow women to have control over this intimate health procedure. Women-Inspired Technology is not only helpful but healing.

  • Community Workforce Training

In our WISH Talk series, we heard often from our collaborators that delineation of care was becoming incredibly necessary, especially during the pandemic. By teaching women to begin the screening process themselves, as well as training midwives and nurses in the local community, women will have the chance to identify and treat disease before it advances to cancer.

  • Peer-to-Peer Learning

This year, the pandemic completely shifted and transformed the way that learning traditionally happens. We have spent this year listening and providing a platform for women to share their vulnerable stores. When we facilitate woman-to-woman storytelling, we begin to break down the shame and stigma associated with sexual and reproductive health.

In 2021, we will build on our work in 2020 and continue to use the WISH model in our journey towards eradicating cervical cancer and addressing health care inequities.

Thank-you to all of our amazing collaborators for your help this year!