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Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Helps Accelerate Life-Saving Cervical Cancer Screening in Ethiopia and Namibia

August 6, 2014


President George W. Bush today announced the launch of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon in Ethiopia and Namibia, and introduced the first group of Ambassadors for the public-private partnership.  President Bush and the First Ladies from the two countries made the announcements at the Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, in Washington, D.C., attended by First Spouses from across Africa, an event to complement President Obama’s hosting of heads of state and government from the continent.

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is a global health partnership founded by the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. Government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen®, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).  The partnership— which has helped screen over 100,000 women for cervical cancer in Botswana, Tanzania, and Zambia in the last three years— will build on existing healthcare programs in Ethiopia and Namibia to add interventions to prevent, screen for, and treat cervical cancer.  The disease continues to be the number-one cancer killer of women in sub-Saharan Africa, exacerbated by its connection with HIV, since HIV-positive women are four-to-five times more likely to contract cervical cancer than their HIV-negative peers.  In Ethiopia, cervical cancer is the most-common female cancer, while in Namibia it is the second most common.

Support for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s expansion comes in the form of financial commitments, in-kind donations or assistance, or both.

  • GSK has committed US$2 million to support the development and execution of a national cervical cancer strategy, the implementation of a demonstration program to vaccinate girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV, which causes cervical cancer), and the expansion of screening and cryotherapy services in Ethiopia.
  • The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation will make an initial contribution US$200,000 for grants to two community partners in Ethiopia to begin to develop a grassroots community outreach strategy on cervical cancer and help build capacity.
  • The American Cancer Society will commit US$85,000 to help train local Ethiopian organizations in awareness-raising, cancer planning, community-mobilization, and messaging for cervical and breast cancer.
  • GE Healthcare will contribute US$500,000 to provide advisory support and technical assistance to the Ethiopian-American Doctors Group in the planning, design, and development of the country’s first state-of-the-art cancer center in Addis Ababa, and to a partnership between PEPFAR and GE Healthcare in Ethiopia to train biomedical technicians to improve the quality of cancer diagnosis.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency through their Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy will  assist Namibia and Ethiopia in building capacity to fight breast and cervical cancer to ensure that women get timely access to appropriate diagnosis and treatment service.
  • The Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership has donated $72,000 to equip and train the first Namibian health workers to perform the “See-and-Treat” approach for cervical cancer.

To further expand advocacy for the work of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon on the African continent, President Bush also announced the partnership’s first Ambassadors.  The inaugural group includes:

  • Ms. Bethlehem Alemu, Founder and Managing Director, soleRebels (Ethiopia);
  • Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman, Econet Wireless (originally from Zimbabwe);
  • Ambassador Gertrude Ibengwe Mongella, stateswoman (Tanzania); and
  • Ms. Isha Sesay, Anchor and Correspondent, CNN International (United Kingdom/Sierra Leone).

The members of the group will use their personal platforms and networks to encourage social change, public support, and national policies to eliminate cervical cancer.  They will also join with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partners to spread positive messages that empower and drive women to seek care for themselves and their daughters, including screening, treatment, and vaccinations.

About Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon®

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon® is the leading public-private partnership aimed at catalyzing the global community to reduce deaths from cervical and breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America by raising awareness of these diseases and increasing access to quality services to detect and treat them.  Its activities integrate prevention— including increased access to vaccination against HPV— screenings, and treatment into existing healthcare programs.  Organizing members of the partnership include the George W. Bush Institute, PEPFAR, Susan G. Komen®, and UNAIDS.  Corporate and foundation members include Becton, Dickinson and Company; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation; the Caris Foundation; GlaxoSmithKline; IBM; Merck; and QIAGEN.  More information is available at www.pinkribbonredribbon.org.  

About the George W. Bush Institute

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, non-partisan public policy organization with the mission of advancing freedom by expanding opportunities for individuals at home and across the globe. It raises current and thought-provoking issues and builds programs to address the challenges facing our Nation and our world. The work of the Bush Institute is inspired by the principles that guided President and Mrs. Bush in public life: freedom is a universal human desire; free enterprise is the engine of economic prosperity; education is the foundation of a successful life; and every human life is precious. For more information, please visit www.bushcenter.org.

About Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, co-hosted by the Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the White House and the U.S. Department of State, is a flagship event of the Bush Institute’s First Ladies Initiative and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon® program.  The forum convenes First Spouses and their Advisors from nearly 45 African countries, as well as select partners from corporations, foundations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with established track records of impact, to engage on three overarching topics: women’s health, education, and economic opportunity.

First Spouses play a critical role as advocates for programs that effectively address challenges and obstacles faced by women and girls.  Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will strengthen their robust networks, promote the development of public-private partnerships, and provide a platform to announce new programs to improve the lives of women and children in Africa.