Awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer continues to be an important issue in both developed and developing countries, as breast cancer remains the most common invasive cancer in women. In 2008, breast cancer caused almost 460,000 deaths worldwide, or roughly 14% of cancer deaths in women.
GE has been recognized as a pioneer in the battle against breast cancer through its mammography devices for over fifty years. During the month of October, thousands of GE Healthcare employees around the world take their commitment to cancer detection and awareness to a new level, as they unite for the Global Pink Ribbons initiative. From the Ukraine to France and Venezuela to Egypt, GE employees have been forming “human pink ribbons” in 40 global locations to visually demonstrate the global fight against the disease during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The 2012 campaign began in Europe earlier this month. In Paris, over 350 GE employees and customers gathered to form a pink ribbon at the Eiffel Tower. In Madrid, employees donned pink T-shirts and held pink balloons in the streets. In Milan, the GE team mobilized more than 80 participants to form a human ribbon, and they also created a mural with support messages for fellow employees with breast cancer.
“We envision a day when cancer is no longer a deadly disease,” said John Dineen, president and CEO, GE Healthcare. “Emphasis on awareness-building and early diagnosis will significantly enhance the effectiveness of treatment and reduce healthcare costs. The Global Pink Ribbons campaign is important, as it spreads the powerful message that early detection can save lives.”
It is estimated that two-thirds of all women around the world must forgo breast screenings due to lack of access to appropriate facilities, lack of up-to-date imaging technologies or lack of trained medical professionals. In addition to raising awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, GE is committed to reaching these women through a series of in-country partnerships with governments, NGOs and local health organizations that can help mobilize efforts on the ground in regions where access to screenings has been limited.
Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in Saudi Arabia. Nearly 70% of Saudi women diagnosed are already at an advanced stage by the time they visit a doctor. Through its healthymagination initiative that aims to reduce costs, increase access and improve the quality of healthcare, GE and the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) have partnered to launch a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind Breast Cancer Screening program that seeks to screen 10,000 women in 2012–2013. The program consists of awareness-raising, screenings and aftercare, ensuring that Saudi women understand the dangers of the disease and can easily take steps to be screened and treated if necessary.
In rural areas in North America, women often must travel at least two hours each way for a breast cancer screening, resulting in very low screening rates. In 2012, GE deployed a new “mammography van” to travel across the state of Wyoming, bringing screening facilities to locations such as Native American reservations and local health fairs. The van is part of the WY Women First Program, a collaboration among GE, the State of Wyoming and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, aimed at increasing access to mammography screenings in one of the most rural states in the United States. The program aims to screen 15,000 women in Wyoming using the mammogram van and financial support from a grant that supports care for uninsured women.
Hungary is the only Central European country that offers national, state-financed breast cancer–screenings, yet for years participation in the program was low while mortality rates from breast cancer were high. In 2009, under the patronage of Hungary’s First Lady, the Bridge of Health Alliance—a nonprofit organization fighting breast cancer—launched PartnerChain, the first large-scale, innovative health awareness/screening campaign. Initiated by GE, the program invites key businesses to join forces in an annual awareness campaign targeting employees in the workplace with information about breast cancer, screening stations in close proximity to their homes, treatment options, and tips to promote good health. As part of the breast cancer awareness campaign, courtesy of GE Healthcare, the Chain Bridge in Budapest is illuminated with pink lights in October. The program is cited as a Case Study in Workplace Wellness on the World Economic Forum’s website.
Throughout the year, women everywhere can find support and inspiration from GE Healthcare’s Breast Cancer Mosaic site, dedicated to sharing stories, insights and experiences from breast cancer survivors, family members and physicians, as well as information related to the global fight against breast cancer.