A Partner Bounces Back
29 August, 2023
Earlier this year, we proudly announced that Women Together Global is a recipient of our latest funding round under the Cervical Cancer Grants Program. We were excited to support this Women Together Global’s work to build capacity for local community health workers and district hospital staff in Malawi’s Mangochi and Mulanje districts to increase demand for and facilitate access to screening and HPV vaccination.
Just days after we announced the award, Malawi was struck by disaster. Cyclone Freddy devastated the country, leaving many in the country without shelter and demolishing critical infrastructure. In the wake of this disaster, Women Together Global worked with their partners to take stock of the damage.
What they found was nearly incomprehensible. Of the women surveyed, 57% had part or all of their home destroyed. Ninety-five per cent of women had lost at least part of their crops, and over 90% reported food restrictions, many impacting children. With these more immediate, basic needs requiring urgent attention, the cervical cancer prevention project was temporarily put on hold.
Undaunted, Women Together Global shifted its focus in these communities toward rebuilding. Despite the unspeakable hardship left by the cyclone, Women Together Global has begun to identify and strengthen connections and pathways of support between women’s groups while creating sustainable income-generation models as part of the recovery process.
Working closely with the Women Together Global team, TogetHER for Health agreed to pivot the use of their grant funds towards the community recovery effort, to support emergency needs – food, building materials, mosquito nets, and education supplies. We look forward to seeing these communities get back on their feet and create a healthy space in which to restart the work of scaling up cervical cancer prevention programs.
The experience of Women Together Global’s Malawi program serves to underscore the fragility of health systems in low-resource settings and their vulnerability to environmental, societal, and political force. While our focus at TogetHER for Health is entirely on accelerating an end to cervical cancer, a preventable disease, we’re reminded that achieving the global ambition of elimination in many ways depends on the dedication of those working to address a wide spectrum of issues even beyond health.
We’ve been inspired by the unyielding spirit of Women Together Global and the resilience of their partners in Malawi. We know it won’t be long before this fantastic program is ready to tackle the burden of cervical cancer in communities most in need.
For more on Women Together Global’s activities, visit their website.