Pittsburgh-based medical action and advocacy nonprofit Basic Health International (BHI) issued a call to action on Father’s Day and received support from around the world. The call? For Dads with daughters to speak up about HPV and cervical cancer in an effort to destigmatize women’s health issues.

BHI was founded by Dr. Miriam Cremer after a residency in El Salvador awakened her to the havoc this entirely preventable disease wreaks on communities and families in underserved populations. BHI’s mission is straightforward — “that no woman dies of cervical cancer.” The organization became a trailblazer in the global medical community, combining advocacy and diplomacy; field work, research and treatment; and coupling innovation in new technologies and methods with ongoing education.

BHI currently operates sites in El Salvador, Colombia, Paraguay, Haiti and China and is soon expanding work into African nations. BHI’s executive team members have worked in the field in nations across the globe for over a decade while aligning with the World Health Organization’s goal of eliminating this 100% preventable, virus-induced disease.

“It’s been wonderful to see dads across the world respond to our call for support,” says Kate Colligan, director of development & communication for BHI. “Women’s health issues often go unchecked because of societal and cultural stigma surrounding women’s health. The message here is that no woman has to die from this preventable disease and talking about it saves lives. It’s that simple.”

The Dads4Daughters campaign, now in its second year, has circulated social media channels of concerned dads and also raises funds for Basic Health International’s work. The campaign runs through the end of June.

Notable fathers in BHI’s two home countries, the United States and El Salvador, are helping lead the charge for Dads4Daughters and include Christopher R. Evans- Director of Business Development, Creative Production at PMI DigitaI; Dr. Roberto Perez- El Salvador Ministry of Health, Director of the Victoria Health Unit in the Department of Cabañas; Dr. Fredy Jeovanni Mendez; and George Potts- President & Founder of Fifth Influence.

Christopher R. Evans

Christopher R. Evans.

Christopher R. Evans, director of business development, creative production at PMI Digital, Pittsburgh

“I’m joining the Dads4Daughters movement to help strong young girls find their voice about health. Prevention and detection are so critical, and cervical cancer can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage and treated promptly. Spread the word, and help all of us take better care of our girls and young women.”

Dr. Roberto Perez

Dr. Roberto Perez.

Dr. Roberto Perez, director of the Victoria Health Unit in the Department of Cabañas, El Salvador Ministry of Health, El Salvador

“I vaccinated my daughters against the Human Papilloma Virus because I want to give them a better future. I want them to be protected against cervical cancer”

George Potts

George Potts.

George Potts, president & founder of Fifth Influence, Pittsburgh

“As a husband and father whose wife and daughter both experienced anxiety over abnormal tissue in the cervix and the threat of cervical cancer, it was important for me to join BHI’s Dads4Daughters campaign. We need to talk openly with our daughters about HPV/cervical cancer, providing support and admiration.”

Dr. Fredy Jeovanni Mendez.

Dr. Fredy Jeovanni Mendez, doctor with a specialization in public health and epidemiology, El Salvador

“From my training and practice as a doctor, I learned the importance of preventing disease. In my case, I have a daughter of 11 years and I know the importance of vaccination to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer, I have seen many women suffer and die from this disease, but now we know that it is a totally preventable pathology with vaccination, that is why I vaccinate my daughter, vaccination is the best solution, let us vaccinate our girls.”

“We have the opportunity in our lifetime to eliminate a cancer from the face of the earth — that’s huge,” says Ms. Colligan. “Individual voices matter here, they actually make a calculable difference globally, think about that. One post, one comment, one dollar quite literally equates to saving a life. Why wouldn’t you step up? These incredible leaders are paving the way for that conversation and we are welcoming more advocates every day. It’s really encouraging.”

The Dads4Daughters campaign began on Father’s Day and lasts through the end of June. Those who identify as dads are encouraged to post pictures of themselves with their daughters with the reason they support the destigmatization of women’s health with the hashthag #Dads4Daughters and challenge their peers to do the same. Donations to Basic Health International are not necessary to participate, though welcomed.

To become a Dads4Daughter global leader, please contact Kate Colligan at kcolligan@basichealth.org.