May 12, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) - A simple procedure developed by SMU 2016 honorary degree recipient Groesbeck Parham has saved the lives of thousands of women in Africa. Cervical cancer, easily screened with a Pap test and treated in developed countries, is fatal to 81 percent of Zambian women who have limited access to health care. Parham has developed a simple, affordable screening procedure using household vinegar as an indicator of abnormal cells.
For Zambian women, cervical cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and particularly dangerous to HIV-infected women. Parham helped develop a simple and inexpensive screening procedure that has been used by 350,000 Zambian women and has been adopted by health providers in countries from South Africa to China.
Four SMU students traveled in 2013 with President George Bush and Laura Bush and SMU Global Health Professor Eric Bing to volunteer with Parham in Zambia. Other SMU students also have worked with Parham to develop cervical cancer research applications.
Parham is a gynecologic oncologist and professor of gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has spent much of the past 30 years in Africa, however, where he is helping lead and implement Zambia's first national cervical cancer control program.
Parham's work to combat cervical and breast cancer in Africa and Latin America is supported by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a partnership founded by the George W. Bush Institute, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, UNAIDS and the Zambian government.
Parham will receive an honorary degree at SMU's May 14 Commencement Convocation. He presented a public symposium on his work on May 11.