As a Biomedical Engineering student at Duke University, Júlia Sroda Agudogo ’11 designed a low-cost non-invasive cervical screening tool for women, earning first place at the Rice 360 Global Health Design Competition. She has now taken this further as part of the core founding team that envisioned, created, and runs The Calla Campaign that recently designed and optimized a novel cervical visualization device, called a Callascope Inserter, for use in low-resource settings.
After graduating from Duke University, she went on to work as a Research Associate at the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies where she continued her work developing the tool, along with a team of engineers, physicians, historians, humanists, global health researchers, and artists.
“After we developed the Callascope, we realized that the unique ability of the Callascope to enable low-cost, comfortable and portable cervical visualization presents an opportunity for its use in educational initiatives to improve women’s awareness of their vaginal and cervical anatomy. While having access to one’s cervix and reflecting on the factors that influence one’s experience of reproductive anatomy in and of itself is insufficient to solve the numerous challenges of female reproductive health, it can be an important and enriching step for many women,” says Júlia.
The Calla Campaign was established because in many parts of the world, the lack of cervical cancer awareness is compounded by a lack of awareness of the cervix and/or stigma associated with thinking and talking about it.
When asked, what it is about women’s health that interests her, she said, “The female body is an exquisite creation of God! I grew up watching my mother, who is an OB-GYN, help women bring life into the world. Her intellect, stamina, and grace leading women, most from low-resource communities in Ghana, to motherhood embedded women’s health in my heart. As I became a woman, I became increasingly aware of the vast, often overwhelming, challenges we face globally, and it became apparent that I had to join the women’s health team.”
While at ALA, Julia founded the Yin Project recycling glass waste into jewelry to fund the education of orphans in her hometown. She also worked with her fellow Ghanaian students at ALA on the In Leadership Summer Series, which taught entrepreneurial and leadership skills to secondary students in low-income communities in Ghana. Additionally, she served as Chief Monitoring and Evaluation officer of Angaza, the student-run peer tutoring enterprise for middle-school students in Johannesburg’s Zandspruit township.
The Calla Campaign is a global campaign to bridge inequities in sexual and reproductive healthcare through technology, storytelling, and art. Born out of a medical device that makes cervical cancer screenings more comfortable and globally accessible, the Calla Campaign bolsters the voices of cisgender women, trans men, and non-binary people in re-imagining societal perceptions of their reproductive anatomy and healthcare.
If you know of a young leader like Júlia, who has the potential to drive change in their country, nominate them for the ALA two-year Diploma Program.