Proof that Medical Innovations Can Save Lives at Low Cost

The scourge of cervical cancer — a leading cancer killer of women in the third world without access to Pap smears and HPV vaccinations — is being whipped with an unlikely low-tech, low-cost preventive treatment: Ordinary vinegar plus freezing of the cervical warts before they turn cancerous.

The vinegar is brushed on the cervix by a nurse and any areas of abnormality turn white. It’s not perfectly accurate — sometimes spots turn white and they are totally benign. But the treatment of the white spots is low-pain and cheap — and highly effective: freezing of the white spots with a metal rod dipped in liquid carbon dioxide (available from the nearest Coca Cola plant).

Read more about this public health innovation that was co-invented by American and Indian doctors, and spread in Thailand, in this New York Times article.

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