theGrio’s 100: Drs. James K. Aikins, Jr. and Charletta A. Ayers, Treating Women Worldwide

Who are Drs. James K. Aikins, Jr. and Charletta A. Ayers?

Dr. James K. Aikins is an obstetrician-gynecologist and associate professor at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. He is also director of research at the school.

Dr. Charletta A. Ayers is associate professor of obstetrics-gynecology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and section chief of obstetrical services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

In addition to their clinical and academic duties, the husband and wife duo co-founded International HealthCare Volunteers, Inc., a non-profit organization providing healthcare to women and their families in underserved areas worldwide.


Why are they on theGrio’s 100?

While visiting Ghana in 2001, their 22-year-old niece delivered a healthy son and died within 24 hours of delivery from postpartum hemorrhage — or bleeding uncontrollably. They later found that the hospitals in that region failed to have the appropriate amenities and specialists to safely care for patients. Upon their return to the United States, their non-profit was born.

Aikins and Ayers annually lead teams of more than physicians and healthcare providers to Ghana and Jamaica. In over 10 years of service, more than 9,500 women and families have been helped by IHCV. In 2011 alone, the team performed 93 major surgeries in eight working days throughout four Ghanaian towns. They also help with preventative healthcare programs such as cervical cancer and HIV screening.

For the past few years, IHCV has collaborated with the organization Medicine in Action on medical missions to Jamaica, providing medical and surgical care to women in Jamaica’s underserved areas. While there, Aikins performed surgeries for women with large pelvic masses and fibroids. The team also trained residents and physicians during those missions.

What’s next for Drs. James K. Aikins, Jr. and Charletta A. Ayers?

They are working on garnering funds to start the construction of the Institute of Gynecology and Gynecologic Cancer, with the goal of providing care and specialty education for physicians in West Africa and beyond.

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