Global Women’s Cancer Summit: Collaboration Aims to Reduce Breast, Cervical Cancers

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World leaders from governments, cancer organizations, and the private sector joined together recently for the first Global Women’s Cancer Summit to address the challenge of reducing the global burden of women’s cancers. The summit was hosted by Susan G. Komen for the Cure and underwritten by GE healthymagination.

A new effort “2.5 by 2025,” was announced at the summit where attendees committed to working together toward improving survival and quality of life for at least 2.5 million women with breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries by the year 2025. 

Mrs. Laura Bush Delivers Keynote Address

A major focus of the summit was identifying innovative solutions to addressing women’s cancers in low- and middle-income countries through public-private partnerships. During her keynote address, Former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush discussed the importance of educating and empowering women to take charge of their health.

“Women are increasingly agents of change in our world, acting as advocates for health and education to advance opportunities for themselves and their families. By giving women the tools they need to succeed, such as access to education and health care, they not only improve the well-being of their own families, but the stability of their countries as well,” Mrs. Bush said.

Unveiling the ‘2.5 by 2025’ Global Effort

The effort called 2.5 by 2025 challenges the global community to come together to combat the increasing breast cancer burden. The goal includes input from leading experts in the cancer and global health community.

“We’ve made tremendous progress over the last few years in terms of recognizing that breast cancer is a disease that affects people worldwide, and we are now able to openly discuss how we combat this disease beyond U.S. borders. The goal of reducing the global breast cancer burden has received enthusiastic support from health experts around the world, and I believe this initiative will make a true impact for women,” said H. Kim Lyerly, MD, George Barth Gellar Professor of Cancer Research at Duke University.

Benjamin O. Anderson, MD, Chair and Director of the Breast Health Global Initiative at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said the summit marks the first time that leaders from non-government organizations, corporations, and governments have come together to dramatically improve prevention and early detection strategies for women’s cancers on a global scale. “Reaching 2.5 million by 2025 requires educating people and health-care providers, and expanding access to cancer treatment,” Dr. Anderson said. “Above all, it requires working in partnership with leaders from all sectors, and the people ‘in-country’ who implement these programs. When we do this, we can save lives,” Dr. Anderson said.

Key Levers for Reaching ‘2.5 by 2025’

Discussion at the summit was centered on what’s needed to create change, including leadership and mobilization; innovation, science/research and technology; and program implementation. Panelists discussed the most critical issues facing low- and middle-income countries and the potential for change and creating a better future.

There are important lessons to learn from our global fight for access to treatment and care for HIV/AIDS. The cost of not recalling our history is too high. We need to apply these lessons immediately to advocate for and implement programs targeting the prevention, care, and treatment for cancer, said the Honorable Agnes Binagwaho, MD, Minister of Health of the Republic of Rwanda. ■