Panama City Launch Expands Global Efforts to Save Women’s Lives
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA – November 21, 2008 – Mrs. Laura Bush joined Susan G. Komen for the Cure®’s vice president of international, Annetta Hewko, and First Lady of Panama, Vivian Fernández de Torrijos, at a ceremony today to initiate Panama’s involvement in the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas. The Partnership unites experts from the United States of America, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama to affect a measurable decrease in breast cancer incidence and mortality in the Americas.
The Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas is an expansion of the United States-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research launched by Mrs. Laura Bush and Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 2006. Mexico and Costa Rica launched the Partnership earlier this year, and Brazil kicked off the effort last November.
“Joining forces to meet the global challenge of breast cancer is crucial to our success in raising awareness and saving lives,” explained Hewko. “This unique partnership, facilitated by the U.S. Department of State, is sharing knowledge, resources and best practices to educate and empower women in the Americas to take charge of their breast health.”
Collaborative efforts to assist the region in combating the disease
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women throughout Latin America. While countries in the Americas are working to heighten awareness and to provide better screening and treatment for breast cancer, the Partnership represents the first collaborative effort to assist the region in combating the disease, thereby building a program focused on empowering women at the grassroots level.
The Partnership is a locally initiated and locally distributed project to increase access to early detection and to reduce breast cancer deaths through improved awareness, increased clinical resources and more funding for scientific research. Komen for the Cure provides the global grassroots network and educational resources to the partnership, and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center provides the medical expertise. The Institute of International Education's San Francisco office (IIE) brings regional training and management experience and serves as the point of contact for the organizations in Panama. The Partnership has the strong commitment of the U.S government represented by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs as well as U.S. Embassies in the four countries.
Dire global consequences of breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the world today. Globally, a case of breast cancer is diagnosed every 29 seconds. A woman dies from breast cancer every 75 seconds worldwide. In Panama, according to Globocan, the death rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer is 41 percent. Late diagnosis is considered a major factor affecting mortality rates not only in Panama but across the region and around the globe.
“Breast cancer is a disease that knows no boundaries—it can strike any woman, any family, anywhere,” said Hewko. “Susan G. Komen for the Cure is committed to raising awareness about early detection and empowering Latina women to be their own health advocates.”
Joining Hewko at the Panama launch event was Dr. Ana Gonzalez-Angulo, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Departments of Breast Medical Oncology and Systems Biology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Gonzalez serves as a member of the steering committee of The United States–Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research and the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas.