Over his 40 year career, Saybrook Organizational Systems professor John Adams frequently helped big organizations transform themselves to be more effective and sustainable. Today he finds himself putting those skills to use addressing a major health crisis in the third world.
On a service trip to India, John’s wife Rhoda Nussbaum, M.D., discovered that she was seeing significantly more cases of advanced cervical cancer than she ever had in the first world. 27% of deaths from cervical cancer are found in India – and it’s the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in less developed countries It’s a disease that’s untreatable in its late stages, but easily dealt with when detected early.
“So,” He remembers, “she started looking into it and found that in the U.S. this was getting picked up very early as part of routine tests, but in the third world there’s no pathology labs so even if you could do a test there’s no way to get one read. So 300, 400 thousand third world women a year die of advanced cervical cancer when it’s a totally preventable disease: there’s a 15 year window to catch it before it reaches this point.”
Rhoda found a colleague back in the U.S. who provided a cheap, low-cost cervical cancer detection program and brought that model to India and offered to set it up for an NGO. John went along to offer support by washing equipment. But he also took notes on how the non-profit operated, and when the work was over he offered to help the NGO create a strategic plan. It turns out they needed one.
Today John is Administrative Director for the Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer (PINCC) India program, which has helped screen over 3000 women using easily taught procedures, trained over 15 Indian gynecologists to do this work locally, and certified two village oriented clinics. They are currently focused on scaling up the project to form a "Center of Excellence for Cancer Prevention in Women" that will train local health care workers and establish universal cervical cancer screening in Mysore, India.
Back in the U.S. John continues his work in organizational development and sustainability, but instead of big companies he's working with a small network of educators teaching the Sierra Mother Lode population about building and preserving individual, family, and community resilience. Once a "critical mass" of families and individuals have decided about their own preparations, the focus will shift to generating a number of cooperative / collaborative community level projects for enhanced and secure local living in the Sierra foothills.