Celina Schocken, CEO of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, and Toun Olateju, Country Program Manager, are in the midst of a series of country visits. Celina began her trip in Republic of Zambia, attending a meeting for the Improving Data for Decision Making in Cervical Cancer Programs project. She also met with the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Joseph Kasonde, to discuss coordination of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon support with the Government’s plans for cervical and breast cancer control, the U.S. CDC Country Director, Dr. Sundeep Gupta, and the USAID Mission Director and the U.S. Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Dr. Michael Yates.
Celina and Toun met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where they spent a full ten days of meetings with Government officials and implementing partners, participated in the Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) Conference, and led a delegation to visit the Hawassa University Teaching Hospital and surrounding satellite clinics. Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, met with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon and encouraged continued collaboration to make the early detection and treatment of cervical and breast cancer a priority in the country. Praising Her Excellency, Mrs. Roman Tesfaye, Ethiopia’s First Lady, both Dr. Tedros and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon agreed that Her Excellency’s leadership has been instrumental in raising awareness about cancer in Ethiopia and spurring action to secure resources for cancer control.
During panel discussions at and on the perimeters of the SCCA Conference, Celina spoke about Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s increasing focus on breast cancer, the value of partnerships, and the importance of innovative technology for screening and treatment of cervical and breast cancer. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon also joined the George W. Bush Institute’s First Ladies Initiative and the American Cancer Society for a pre-conference workshop focused on the importance of advocacy in cancer control intervention.
In Hawassa, Celina and Toun, along with representatives from partner organizations visited the main hospital and surrounding clinics, as well as met with regional government officials to assess and discuss how Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon can better strengthen services for cervical cancer in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region of Ethiopia. Responding to a request from Her Excellency Mrs. Roman, the First Lady, the partnership is also planning additional breast cancer work. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is working with Government representatives and implementers to plan the best approach to treating breast cancer, beginning with the establishment of a center of excellence at Hawassa Hospital.
This week, the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon delegation is hosting coordination meetings and traveling to regional sites in Tanzania and will then continue onto Botswana. Stay tuned for a report from the continuing journey!
By Crystal Cazier. Crystal is an Associate at the George W. Bush Institute, who works with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.