By Alejandra Narvaez – Communications Specialist, Pro Mujer in Nicaragua
“I had never had a Pap smear before, but our credit officer always insisted that all of the women from my communal bank have the exam regularly,” explained María Alejandra Rodríguez, a Pro Mujer client from Nicaragua. “Two years ago I finally had one, and I was so scared when I found out that the results were irregular, and that I had cervical cancer. I felt in that moment that my world was crashing down around me. To me, cancer meant certain death.”
Today, María Alejandra runs a successful hardware retail business. She is one of nearly 3,000 women who, thanks to a simple Pap they received at a Pro Mujer clinic, were diagnosed with cancer, received treatment and survived.
Inspired by these success stories and the new preventive health services model Pro Mujer is currently rolling out across its five countries of operation, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) pledged US$75,000 to Pro Mujer in Nicaragua to help standardize its health model and nearly double the number of clients it serves from 47,000 to 87,000 by 2014. GSK has extended this partnership, agreeing to provide US$575,000 over the course of three years to fund integrated services for women in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.
Grateful to be alive and well, María Alejandra shared her moving story at the partnership launch event, highlighting the impact Pro Mujer’s integrated services have had on her life.
María Alejandra Rodríguez shares her story at the launch event for Pro Mujer’s partnership with GSK
Gloria Ruiz, General Manager of Pro Mujer in Nicaragua, explained the strategy behind the agreement. “Our training workshops help women become more conscientious about taking care of themselves. They transform attitudes, and eventually women take the initiative to come to Pro Mujer’s clinics where they receive preventive care from trained doctors.”
Marcela Brenes, Sales Manager at GSK Nicaragua, sustained that GlaxoSmithKline is committed to improving people’s lives. As she pointed out, this agreement will help facilitate and incentivize a key sector of the population to break the cycle of poverty and combat beliefs and customs that undermine women’s dignity.
Since its founding 16 years ago, Pro Mujer in Nicaragua has provided 42,468 Pap smears – 2,958 of which resulted in the detection of cancerous or precancerous lesions. “This is the true impact of detecting chronic and life-threatening diseases early. It improves the quality of a woman’s emotional, economic and family life,” explained Gloria Ruiz.
Pro Mujer first launched its new health model in León in 2010. There, clients received a high-quality, low-cost health package for just US$28 per year. One of the attractive features of the package, aside from its low-cost, was that clients who purchased it voluntarily had the option to transfer benefits to their children or grandchildren through discount coupons for specialized care, such as gynecological services.
From left to right: Marcela Brenes, Sales Manager at GSK Nicaragua; Pro Mujer client María Alejandra Rodríguez; and Gloria Ruiz, General Manager of Pro Mujer in Nicaragua
María Alejandra concluded saying that “Thank God that Pro Mujer exists because just as it saved my life, it is saving the lives of many others. I lived through it – I had radiation and chemotherapy, and I thought that Pro Mujer wouldn’t loan to me if I was sick, but Pro Mujer continued to provide me with credit even thought I couldn’t attend the meetings. Instead, I sent my son in my place. I can say that Pro Mujer has always been by my side.”