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Making Accountability Infectious

February 1, 2013 5 minute Read by Doyin Oluwole

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s (PRRR) Steering Committee, which serves as PRRR’s Board of Directors, met at Merck Vaccine’s headquarters on January 18, 2013 to discuss progress made, lessons learned and a way forward for 2013. PRRR is privileged to have a Steering Committee composed of executive leadership from our 12 member organizations. The Committee meets bi-annually to discuss key issues around strategy, program measurement, and upcoming thought leadership opportunities.

Julie Gerberding, President of Merck Vaccines, kicked off the Steering Committee meeting emphasizing PRRR’s impressive progress in the past year. To continue our forward momentum, Julie urged the group to, “make accountability as infectious as the diseases (we are trying to control) are.” This sentiment rang true throughout 2012, when PRRR members were truly accountable by making good on all of their pledged commitments. In 2012, PRRR partners have contributed more than $2 million to cancer control programs in Botswana and Zambia; over $1.5 million for program management, and in-kind support far exceeding that value.

To ground our conversations to the realities in the field, Zambia’s CDC Director Dr. Lawrence Marum and the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Coordinator Kristie Mikus spoke to the Steering Committee, and their in-country perspective was invaluable.  Dr. Marum made clear that although women’s cancers are often neglected and stigmatized, there is an urgent need to develop innovative and sustainable solutions in Africa, and PRRR is well-positioned to galvanize and catalyze efforts, bring together partners, and provide resources and technical assistance.

One of the most important strategic outcomes of the meeting was a revision in the way the partnership envisions success with regard to breast cancer control. To-date, PRRR’s focus around breast cancer has centered on awareness-raising. The Steering Committee adopted a more ambitious goal of reducing deaths from breast cancer by promoting early detection. This is a welcome development as we look forward to the Susan G. Komen Global Cancer Summit in Washington, D.C., this February. 2013 will be a year centered on expanding PRRR support in Botswana and Zambia and extending similar support to even more countries.

PRRR is delighted to announce that British Robinson, Vice President, Global Strategy and Programs at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, will serve as the 2013 PRRR Steering Committee Chair. She assumes this position after Dr. Mark Dybul successfully completed his one-year tenure; Dr. Dybul is now serving as the Executive Director of the Global Fund. British has demonstrated great leadership as PRRR’s Vice Chair for the past year and understands the challenges facing women’s cancer control efforts globally. She brings to the Chair position a passion for innovation and diplomatic excellence, both of which will strengthen PRRR’s impact in attaining its mission. British has a breadth of experience in corporate social responsibility, government relations and domestic and international policy development which will help us deliver women’s cancer control services around the world. As part of the official PRRR leadership transition, Lisa Carty, Director,  Washington, D.C., Liaison Office of UNAIDS, will assume the role of Vice Chair. UNAIDS is one of the four founding members of PRRR. Lisa has devoted most of her career to international health and humanitarian issues spanning various continents. Ambassador James K. Glassman, Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute also announced that Gary Edson, CEO at Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, will represent the George W. Bush Institute on the Steering Committee moving forward.

Stay tuned for updates as PRRR makes accountability infectious and facilitates additional resources to more countries, and women, in need.

This post was written by Doyin Oluwole, MD, FRCP, founding Executive Director of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, based at the George W. Bush Institute.