Bringing together practitioners, policy makers, heads of state, community leaders, advocates and the armies of compassion who serve those in need, the George W. Bush Institute’s Summit to Save Lives put forth the philosophical foundations and concrete actions to create the next leap forward in global health, with a particular emphasis on women and children.
At the Summit to Save Lives, the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) announced Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon®, an innovative partnership to leverage public and private investment in global health to combat cervical and breast cancer – two of the leading causes of cancer death in women – in Sub–Saharan Africa and Latin America. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon expands the availability of vital cervical cancer screening and treatment and breast care education–especially for women most at risk of getting cervical cancer in developing nations because they are HIV-positive.
Only a decade ago, HIV, malaria, childhood pneumonia and other health conditions were a death sentence in Sub-Saharan Africa and other predominantly low-income, parts of the world. Streets of these major cities were clogged with coffins holding the bodies of those who had suffered. Hopelessness and despair gripped entire countries. While millions were dying in low-income countries from these infectious diseases, scientific advances provided lifesaving tools for prevention and treatment for these same illnesses in high-income countries. Where you were born determined if you would live or die.
The heaviest burden of disease in poor countries is shouldered by women and girls – mothers, caregivers and the providers of hope for happy, healthy families. When a mother dies, her children are up to 10 times more likely to die and are less likely to be fed or go to school. And girls suffer more than boys, perpetuating a vicious cycle of injustice and inequality.
Today, massive investments in global health initiated less than a decade ago have begun to turn the tide against major diseases, even in the poorest places on earth. Cities once burdened by death are now coming back to life, evidenced not only by progress in physical health, but by a resurgence of economic and cultural vitality as well. The investments of the United States government have led the way with strong bipartisan leadership and commitment to global health. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest international health initiative in history to combat a single disease, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and other investments have saved and lifted up millions of lives.
Looking to the future, there is opportunity to do more. The investments of the American people have not only saved lives, they have built durable and strong health care structures and provided insights into how to improve the delivery of services. A pregnant woman visiting a PEPFAR supported clinic can receive antenatal care, be HIV tested and learn how to protect herself and her infant children from the bite of a mosquito that may carry malaria. Women receiving lifesaving medications for HIV can be tested, and if needed, treated for cervical cancer during regular visits to the clinic. By focusing on the health of a person, delivering care, and building on what has already been created in a more integrated way, even more lives can be saved and lifted up.
Through recent scientific advances in prevention, we are even closer to controlling HIV. By using new diagnostics tools for malaria along with inexpensive drugs and vaccines, death from the major diseases that cause fatal fevers in children can end. Interventions that cost pennies can ensure that mothers and their infants will live through birth. Using simple diagnostics, curative treatment and vaccines, we can begin to address cervical cancer.
Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Announcement