On September 13, former President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new initiative to bring breast and cervical cancer services to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) clinics to respond to the two leading causes of cancer death in women in the developing world. Bush and Clinton were joined by UNAIDS, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure and an array of corporate partners in the announcement, which was made at the Global Health Summit to Save Lives hosted by the George W. Bush Institute. Secretary Clinton made a commitment of $30 million in federal funding over five years for the program.
According to Ambassador Eric Goosby, PEPFAR director, the U.S. is already funding cervical cancer screening and treatment in 250 clinics in 11 countries. The focus of this breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment initiative will be in developing nations in Africa and Latin America.
First lady Michelle Obama and the health minister of Rwanda attended the meeting and they announced that their effort to provide the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to young girls in the country was well underway, with 97 percent of 11 year olds already receiving two of the three-dose vaccine regimen. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women. The government of Rwanda also announced this week its intention to provide antiretroviral therapy to HIV-infected persons in discordant partnerships, where one partner is HIV-infected and the other is not.
In his remarks at the summit, President Bush excoriated those who would abandon the U.S. commitment to global AIDS and other global health programs and reminded his audience that the 6.6 million people from developing countries on antiretroviral treatment would be dead today without PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In regards to the new initiative, he remarked, “It is unacceptable to save a woman from AIDS only to have her die of cervical cancer.”
To read more about the initiative, click here.