Blog

Saving Lives was Focus of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Steering Committee Meeting

Posted by On May 19, 2015
GWBPC PRRR Dinner with President and Mrs. Bush. Photo by Grant Miller By Andrea Kirsten-Coleman Tornadoes and heavy rain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area couldn’t keep over 40 members of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Steering Committee from gathering at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on May 11 and 12, 2015. The biannual Steering Committee meetings are an important part of our stewardship, accountability and governance, as the partners examine the results of the programs we support, and consider ways to accelerate progress against cervical and breast cancer. While the group discussed a variety of topics, from strategies for telling our story better, to expansion opportunities, to innovations in data-management and use of data for decision-making, the main takeaway of the meeting was this: saving women’s lives is of utmost importance. President Bush echoed this sentiment at a dinner he and Mrs. Bush hosted for the group.  “It is a moral imperative to save our women,” he said. “It’s especially important that those who have survived AIDS do not succumb to diseases like cervical or breast cancer.” The Steering Committee agreed with this sense of urgency, as hundreds of thousands of women still lack access to screening for cervical and breast cancer, and healthcare institutions in many countries are not equipped to adequately manage patients who have the diseases. With the help of members of our Steering Committee, the work of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is making an impact on the lives of women on the African continent. This time last year, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partners had screened and treated over 85,000 women for cervical cancer in Zambia and Botswana. The latest numbers show over 175,000 have been screened, including now in Tanzania. Last year, 19,000 girls had received all three doses of vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in Zambia and Botswana, and now we have reached over 42,000 girls. With support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Tanzania has vaccinated over 17,000 girls. In March, Botswana moved from a demonstration program to the full countrywide roll-out of HPV vaccination for girls between 9 and 13 years of age, paid for by the national Government. At this time last year, the partnership was working in just three countries; now we’ve added Ethiopia and Namibia to the portfolio. This time last year, there were no breast cancer clinics in Zambia, now we have opened two clinics equipped with ultrasound to perform ultrasound and ultrasound-guided biopsies; and capacity has been built for advanced cancer care including pathology, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Steering Committee only meets twice a year, but we know our partners are working on our behalf every day. To our partners, we say thank you for devoting your time, for celebrating our success and for lending resources and creativity to our collective cause.  Our results to date, and our future success, are not possible without YOU. Andrea Kirsten-Coleman is Program Manager, Communications, Development and Partner Outreach for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon