Pink Ribbon Red ribbon partnership expands critically needed breast and cervical cancer interventions in sub-Saharan Africa

President George W. Bush together with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé at the launch of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative.
Credit: Bush Center

WASHINGTON, D.C., 13 September 2011—The George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) will today announce Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon®, an innovative partnership to leverage public and private investment in global health to combat cervical and breast cancer — two of the leading causes of cancer death in women – in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon will expand the availability of vital cervical cancer screening and treatment and breast care education—especially for women most at risk of getting cervical cancer in developing nations because they are HIV-positive.

“It’s time to take the next step in building on the progress that has been made over the past decade in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” said President George W. Bush. “Many women who seek AIDS services also face the challenge of cancer.  It’s not enough to save a woman from AIDS, if she is then left to die of another very preventable disease.”

The cervical cancer partnership will leverage the platform and resources of PEPFAR  — established under President Bush and a cornerstone of President Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) — and will draw from lessons learned in the significant scaling-up of access to HIV interventions in recent years. As breast cancer has not been linked to HIV, PEPFAR funds will not be used for direct support of breast cancer activities.  However, other Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partners will leverage the PEPFAR platforms, using other sources of funding, to support breast cancer efforts.

“Investing in women’s health is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.  Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon will save women’s lives and in turn help families and whole communities. Through this new partnership, the U.S. Government has committed an additional $10 million, which brings our total PEPFAR investment to $30 million over the next five years. Under the leadership of Secretary Clinton and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, the State Department is proud to join this important and ambitious partnership to address breast and cervical cancer globally,” said Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large Global Women’s Issues.

Women whose immune systems are compromised by HIV are more likely to develop cervical cancer.  Through PEPFAR, there is already screening and treatment of women at more than 250 clinics in 11 African countries.  Through PRRR PEPFAR has committed an additional $10 million, which will bring the total PEPFAR investment to $30 million over the next five years and ensure more women will be able to be screened and saved.

“Today the majority of women in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to critical breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment services and we must move quickly to address this growing epidemic,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “The PRRR partnership builds on our long-standing efforts in Africa and globally to support innovative models that will save lives by detecting breast and cervical cancer earlier, when there is still time to treat it.”

With initial indications of interest, PRRR expects to have commitments of up to $75 million across 5 years, which will grow to include additional participants and services. The goals are to reduce deaths from cervical cancer by an estimated 25% among women screened and treated through the initiative, significantly increase access to breast and cervical cancer prevention, screening and treatment programs, and create innovative models that can be scaled up and used globally.

This public-private initiative includes initial commitments from founding corporate participants Merck, Becton Dickinson, QIAGEN, Caris Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and IBM.

“The rapid expansion of HIV prevention and treatment services over the past decade has saved millions of lives,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Uniting the efforts of two vital health movements means more women around the world will be reached with integrated—not isolated care.”

Infection with HIV weakens the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight infections that may lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is 4-5 times more common among women living with HIV than women who are HIV-negative.

There is an urgent need to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to addressing women’s cancers in developing nations, where these diseases are often neglected and associated with stigmas that discourage women from accessing life-saving prevention, care and treatment programs. By leveraging the significant investments made in HIV prevention, care and treatment, it is possible to integrate simple, cost-effective preventions, screening and testing methods and dramatically reduce mortality and late-stage diagnosis of cervical cancer, while continuing to increase access to breast care education.

UNAIDS

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative United Nations partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Learn more at unaids.org.

George W. Bush Institute

The George W. Bush Institute seeks to improve the human condition through human freedom, educational reform, global health, and economic growth. In all its programming, the Institute integrates initiatives that empower women and support social enterprise as proven catalysts for change. The Bush Institute is the innovation policy arm of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which promotes the Presidential library, located on the campus of SMU in Dallas. For more information, please visit www.bushcenter.com.

PEPFAR

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government initiative to save the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. This historic commitment is the largest by any nation to combat a single disease internationally, and PEPFAR investments also help alleviate suffering from other diseases across the global health spectrum. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make smart investments to save lives. For more information about PEPFAR, visit www.PEPFAR.gov, http://twitter.com/uspepfar, or www.facebook.com/PEPFAR.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure and Komen 3-Day for the Cure, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. For more information about Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer, visit komen.org or call 1-877 GO KOMEN.

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