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In-Country Implementers: A Vital Link for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon

Posted by On July 28, 2015
By McKenna Gilliland Photo of Wondu In the countries in which we work, in-country implementers carry out the daily work of the partnership. From awareness-raising to advocacy to screening and treatment, these local individuals and organizations form a vital link between Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon and the women we serve. Ato Wondu Bekele, Co-Founder and General Manager of the Mathiwos Wondu Ye-Ethiopia Cancer Society (MWECS), and an American Cancer Society Global Cancer Ambassador, is one of these crucial implementers. Since losing his son, Mathiwos, to leukemia ten years ago, Ato Wondu has dedicated his life to fighting cancer in Ethiopia and around the world through MWECS. Earlier this month, The Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance, a conglomerate of four international NCD-fighting organizations, invited Ato Wondu to participate in a panel on Securing a Healthy Future: Sustainable Financing for NCDs in the Post-2015 Agenda, at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, in Addis Ababa. During the panel, Ato Wondu shared his perspective on civil society’s role in advocating for NCDs as part of national development. He also explained his organization’s joint work with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon to reduce cervical and breast cancer in Ethiopia as an important way to pursue the larger goals of reducing NCDs as a whole. The participants in the conference, including officials from the NCD Case Team of Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Health, welcomed Ato Wondu’s contribution to the panel. Ariella Rojhani, Senior Advocacy Manager for The NCD Alliance, thanked him for “speaking so powerfully and eloquently” about the need to mobilize resources to fight NCDs in Africa. Ato Wondu emphasized during the panel, that preventing and controlling cancer is not merely an amenity that a government might choose to provide to its citizens, but a critical component of people’s essential human rights. From his decade of experience in working on cancer in the developing world, he sees addressing NCDs as “not only a health strategy, but also a development intervention as a key action in ensuring sustainable human rights and human development.” Citing several international treaties in which governments have committed to controlling NCDs as a means of guaranteeing human rights, Ato Wondu sees encouraging, tangible progress being made toward that vision. “We have to continue our united effort and commitment, and will not rest until we have quality health services for those living with NCDs and ample financial resources set aside for NCD control, until measures are in place to stop the increase in new cases,” says Bekele. It is only with the unmatched determination and willingness of in-country partners like Ato Wondu to participate in the global, regional and national discussion on cancer that Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is able to save the lives of women from cervical and breast cancer. Thank you to Ato Wondu Bekele and the Mathiwos Wondu Ye-Ethiopia Cancer Society for your sustained commitment to fighting cancer. McKenna McGilliland is the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Summer 2015 Intern.