This Jewish Teen is Using Technology to Help Save Women's Lives in Developing Nations – Kveller
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This Jewish Teen is Using Technology to Help Save Women’s Lives in Developing Nations

There are over 2,000 women in the world today who are alive thanks, in part, to Lena GoldsteinLena, who grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, was just 16 when her family took a yearlong medical service trip to South America and Southeast Asia.  Her family worked with nine different NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) in Ecuador, Peru, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Lena saw firsthand the need for better healthcare in developing nations. Inspired, she started a project of her own, “Improved Cervical Cancer Screening in Developing Nations,” and partnered with non-profit organizations in China, Peru, and Cambodia. 

Now, at 18, Lena is offering cost-effective cervical cancer screenings in these countries and saving lives. Her research into medical technology has been honored and published in multiple places and she is a proud recipient of a 2018 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award for her genius and generous work.

Who would you say has had the greatest positive influence on your life?
My parents have absolutely had the greatest positive influence on my life. After all, it was our family’s yearlong medical volunteer trip in South America and Southeast Asia that prompted me to take initiative in the global health field.

How did you decide to focus on cervical cancer screenings?
After traveling with my family, I was particularly struck by disparities affecting women in developing countries. Cervical cancer is one of the easiest cancers to detect in the pre-cancer stage and is one of the most preventable diseases. Still, more than 250,000 women die annually from cervical cancer because they lack access to reliable, regular, and accurate screening methods. So, I’m trying to change these statistics by using new medical technology. This way, we can have cervical cancer screening access for more women and establish quality control and a standard of care.

What is the hardest part of doing this vital work? The most rewarding?
I am hopeful that my project has made an impact on the global discussion surrounding cervical cancer screening. Writing abstracts, submitting to medical journals, and presenting to experts in women’s health and global health fields continue to be challenging, rewarding, and exciting experiences.

What’s next for your project?
Using the Diller Teen Award Scholarship, I hope to further investigate the application of telemedicine technology in cervical cancer screening. Digital Cervicography has enormous potential for scalability and telemedicine support as well, and we are just only starting to see the benefits of having off-site experts analyze our data. 

How about you? Any plans?
I’m currently a freshman at Yale University, and I look forward to using my school breaks to continue to lead medical brigades with our partners in Peru, China, and Cambodia. I know that I’m just beginning to understand the cultural, societal, and religious complexities that are vital components of the global health field, and I look forward to continuing the hard work.

You are certainly impressive. How about, if you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I would absolutely choose omnilingualism as my superpower! I am fluent in Spanish and able to communicate with patients in Peru, but I wish that I were able to better understand patients in Cambodia, China, and beyond.


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