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The Power of One to Make a Difference

Posted by On July 19, 2013
The Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Partners at the African First Ladies Summit. (July 3, 2013 Photo by Paul Morse)
The Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Partners at the African First Ladies Summit. (July 3, 2013 Photo by Paul Morse)
The African First Ladies Summit was a huge success thanks to the leadership, commitment and foresight of President and Mrs. Bush, the participation of the African First Ladies, and the hard work of Bush Institute staff and partners. On the final day of the Summit, a number of key announcements were made about Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon®. First and foremost, President Bush and President Kikwete announced Tanzania as the third country of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon engagement. In addition, organizing members of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership, including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen®, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and corporate and foundation members Merck and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation announced commitments to advance the initiative’s engagement in Tanzania. PEPFAR will further Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s engagement in Tanzania by committing $3 million to the initiative in Tanzania to expand the screening and treatment of women with cervical cancer. As part of this commitment, the program delivered 16 new cryotherapy machines to the country during the week of the Summit. UNAIDS emphasized its continued support of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon in Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia through a commitment of $100,000 over three years to help promote the engagement of women living with HIV. Working with local partners, UNAIDS will support community-based engagement in Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon countries both to ensure that HIV and cervical cancer services are a part of a comprehensive approach to women’s health and to help decrease the stigma and discrimination that have often proven to be a barrier to women accessing the care and support they require. Merck and Komen announced a partnership to commit $500,000 for HPV vaccination sensitization and awareness. Merck has donated two cryotherapy machines to Jhpiego-Tanzania, a Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) partner, to help scale-up cervical cancer screening in the country as a Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon commitment. Merck has also provided two loop electrosurgical excision procedure machines to Tanzania Health Promotion Support, a parastatal organization of the MOHSW to provide advanced treatment to women with cervical lesions. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, through its Secure the Future® Program, will commit $1.2 million over the next three years to Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon in Tanzania through the deployment of Technical Assistance Teams supported by cash donations to assist with community outreach and mobilization along with community systems strengthening. These commitments will no doubt save women’s lives by increasing access to HPV vaccination, awareness, and the screening and treatment of breast and cervical cancers in Tanzania. Speaking to several Summit attendees after the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon panel, I was particularly struck by the reaction of Tanzania Member of Parliament Lediana Mafuru Mngongo, who is the current chairperson of HIV/AIDS Parliamentarian Committee, Tanzania Parliamentarian AIDS Coalition, and Coalition of African Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS. She said
“To come to this meeting and do nothing after is a sin. I don’t want to commit that sin; because I will kill many women if I do nothing.”
Why was I struck? Africa is not in dearth of summits and meetings but the follow-up is always a challenge. In an effort to make a difference, this woman has decided to not only raise awareness of women’s cancers to the Tanzania Parliament but also to other African women parliamentarians and her home constituency. This is the POWER of ONE. Of equal importance, she has promised to report regularly on progress. She needs help to make this determination a reality. She needs data to make a case for investment in women’s cancers in Tanzania and beyond. She needs support to strengthen her leadership skills. She needs in-country stakeholders to utilize her as an advocate: a voice among her own people. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is a channel for that support. We believe in the POWER of ONE, and for us, results matter. http://www.bushcenter.org/first-ladies-initiative/african-first-ladies-summit-video