In 2011, four organizations recognized the global health community’s success in fighting HIV and AIDS, and committed to a new vision: no woman should survive an HIV diagnosis only to die of a treatable or preventable cancer.
That vision led to the launch of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush, to address cervical and breast cancers in low-resource settings.
From our four founding partners— the Bush Institute, UNAIDS, PEPFAR, and Susan G. Komen—and our first partner country, Zambia, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon has expanded in our first five years to over twenty partner organizations and operations in an additional four countries, and entered a new phase this year when we began operating as an independent non-profit organization.
In five years, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon has made extraordinary gains against women’s cancers, made possible by the efforts of our government, non-profit, multilateral, philanthropic, and private-sector partners based in the countries where we operate and around the world. Since our inception, we have screened over 280,000 women for cervical cancer, and over 13,000 women for breast cancer. We have supported the vaccination of over 120,000 girls against the virus that causes cervical cancer. Our “Lives Saved” model, developed by experts at Johns Hopkins University, indicates that the screening and treatment programs we support had averted about 34,826 deaths through March 2016.
On the occasion of our fifth anniversary, we remind the global health community that breast and cervical cancers are a substantial threat – not only to the roughly 1.8 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and the 485,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer yearly, but also to the achievement of country-level and global public health goals, including Sustainable Development Goal 3, adopted by the United Nations last year, calling for healthy lives and well-being for all.
Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon has a proven capacity to address cervical and breast cancers with the power of partnership. We are poised to build on our success to date by increasing the number of women we serve and the services we offer them, expanding our partnership to include new organizations, advocating for policies that promote women’s health, and embracing innovation both in access to cancer prevention and treatment, and in the technologies employed in the diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer and pre-cancer.
Follow us on Twitter (@pinkredribbon) to learn how to join us in celebrating our anniversary over the next few months, bring attention to women’s cancers globally, and share your own impressions of the value of our partnership’s efforts using the hashtag #5yearsPRRR.
By Jennie Aylward, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Consultant