News & Media

McNair Scholars from UW-La Crosse are helping to improve cancer screenings for women in Nicaragua

Mikka Nyarko, a McNair Scholar of UW-La Crosse, presents research findings on a women's reproductive health initiative in Nicaragua. Photo courtesy of La Crosse Tribune

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse undergraduates Mikka Nyarko and Cecilia Moreno are working on a pilot project which will help to improve women's health in Nicaragua. Their research project is in partnership with Gundersen Health Systems Global Partners program, and would increase access to health education and cancer screenings for women living in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua.

Nyarko and Moreno presented their research last week at UW-La Crosse's summer research expo as part of their inclusion in this year's UWL class of McNair Scholars. The program works with underrepresented students to help prepare them for graduate-level work and studies in higher education.

After studying the challenges and culture of the region, Nyarko and Moreno came up with a program that would improve women's health education while being sensitive to cultural norms. Since the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua is low in literacy, the project will involve different visual aids such as demonstrations to help women learn about their bodies and signs indicative of cancer.

"As undergraduates, we never knew if we would ever get to see our work get put into place," Nyarko said. "It is an amazing and wonderful opportunity."

Their program will be initiated by an October visit to Matagalpa by the Global Partners, to be followed up by the two student's evaluation of the data and results over the winter. Nyarko and Moreno plan to then visit Nicaragua in the spring to expand the program using the collected data.

You can learn more about the women's health initiative in Nicaragua here, and about the McNair Scholar's program here.