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Closing Remarks at the Symposium on Breast Cancer Awareness

Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
The Blair House
Washington, DC
October 7, 2008

Thank you very much Anita for that kind introduction. I would also like to recognize Ambassador Nancy Brinker for her leadership and steadfast commitment, leadership that created Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We have been truly inspired and motivated by your initiatives Ambassador Brinker.

I am delighted to join you all on this very special occasion as we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During this month we are provided an important opportunity to highlight one of the most critical health issues impacting women around the globe. It is a time to reflect on past accomplishments, to recognize current efforts underway, and to acknowledge the many challenges that still lie ahead.

It was a privilege to hear from our diverse panelists today and learn about their exceptional work. Ms. Hala Moddelmog’s strategic vision; Dr. Funda Meric-Bernstam’s research; Dr. Hurlbert’s medical research management skills; Dr. Al-Amoudi’s public awareness raising work; and Dr. Caleffi’s work to provide care for the underserved are all examples of enormously constructive ways to address the breast cancer challenge. Their courage in championing a cause that is making a positive difference on behalf of women’s health worldwide is truly inspiring. I would also like to highlight the fact that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice awarded Dr. Al-Amoudi the International Women of Courage Award. Please join me in applauding these amazing partners for their commitment and continued efforts.

We at the State Department understand the importance of forging strong public-private partnerships. And we have been fortunate to form ground-breaking partnerships with leaders like these in the fight against breast cancer. Initiated by the steadfast leadership of First Lady Laura Bush, we have seen great progress through the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer and Research and the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research in the Americas.

We have seen similar efforts being implemented by our U.S. Embassies around the globe. For example:

  • U.S. Embassy Pristina has initiated a broad partnership, called the Balkans Breast Cancer Initiative, to raise breast cancer awareness in Kosovo and the Balkas region that aims to reduce cultural taboos and encourage early detection. Next week, they will hold their second annual International Congress of Kosova Oncology Conference.

  • And in India, U.S. Embassy New Delhi joined together with Consulates in the country and speakers from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to host the first Asian Breast Cancer Congress and a 5K Walk for Life which drew 3,000 participants. Additionally, Ambassador Mulford and his wife, Jeanne, a breast cancer survivor, have become prominent figures in the breast cancer movement in India.

These are only two of the many examples of how our U.S. Embassies have taken the initiative to be leaders in the fight against breast cancer.

I urge all Ambassadors, both in the United States and in countries around the globe, to take action against breast cancer this October by taking steps to raise awareness of the issue.

We can help by drawing attention to successful public-private partnerships and sharing information about resources that are available. By highlighting the importance of early screenings, self-breast examinations, and improved medical and support services we can help save lives by detecting cancer in its early stages and educating people about how to protect their health.

Raising awareness about this important issue requires dedication, commitment, and passion. Your participation in this Call to Action to join the First Lady in raising global awareness of breast cancer this October is crucial to the cause. However you choose to take action this month, know that your efforts will be making a difference in the lives of many.

I look forward to working with all of you as we do our part to raise global awareness of breast cancer. Thank you.

Released on October 10, 2008

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