Building Partnerships to Meet the UN SDG Health Targets: The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Experience

Building Partnerships to Meet the UN SDG Health Targets: The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Experience

Cervical cancer education in waiting area of Buhingo dispensary in Tanzania. Photo credit MEWATA

Cervical cancer education in waiting area of Buhingo dispensary in Tanzania. Photo credit MEWATA

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Monday, October 31, 2016 - 9:35am

CAMPAIGN: Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

CONTENT: Article

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has an unwavering commitment to promoting health equity around the globe. Through our grants and partnerships, we are helping many low and middle income countries build capacity to further progress toward prevention and control of cancer and other non-communicable diseases, ultimately helping them to drive progress toward the visionary global goal of reducing deaths from chronic disease in 25 percent by 2025. During the UICC World Cancer Congress in Paris, France, on November 2, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation will host a panel of esteemed experts in cancer care delivery, and Foundation grantees, who will reflect on their work on the frontlines of cancer control and how that work supports to the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) for health by promoting health and wellbeing for all.

About a decade after the Foundation unveiled its flagship Secure the Future™ initiative to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa 16 years ago, it was discovered that women who survived that epidemic faced another unforeseen health crisis: cervical and breast cancers.  Women with HIV are almost five times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women who are HIV negative.

The Foundation recognized this unmet medical need and to address the situation, joined with a global public-private partnership, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR), to raise awareness and increase access to cervical and breast cancer education, screening and treatment for women in sub-Saharan Africa, supporting local organizations in the fight against women’s cancers.

Fifteen of the top 20 countries with the highest rates of cervical cancer are located in sub-Saharan Africa; this includes Tanzania, where the cervical cancer rate is 40.6 per 100,000 women, compared to 16 out of 100,000 women elsewhere. Medical Women Association of Tanzania (MEWATA), which has successfully implemented community-based mass screening interventions and engaged policy makers to raise awareness and improve access and utilization of breast and cervical cancer screening services, is working in partnership with the Foundation and PRRR to increase awareness and access to cervical and breast cancer services.

As with HIV/AIDS in Africa, viral hepatitis has become an urgent public health concern in Asia. In China, liver cancer is the third leading cause of death; 80% of liver cancers are caused by hepatitis B or C infection. The Foundation has supported hepatitis programs in China since 2002 and works with a range of partners to promote early diagnosis and access to care for viral hepatitis infection to reduce the risk of progression to liver cancer among the most vulnerable and high-risk populations.

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that links smoking and cancer, tobacco use remains common in countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE); these countries have substantially higher rates of smoking-related cancer deaths compared to Western European countries. Tobacco cessation education for healthcare professionals in the region remains minimal, and although nurses are uniquely positioned to offer cessation assistance to patients given their level of contact throughout a patient’s hospitalization and follow-up visits, there currently are no national tobacco control efforts directed at nurses.

To address this problem, the Foundation has established a Nursing Center of Excellence in the region to build nurses’ capacity in evidence-based interventions in tobacco control, to advocate for making tobacco cessation part of national healthcare efforts, and to establish nurse-led tobacco cessation programs in healthcare facilities and communities.

Although cancer remains one of the most common causes of mortality worldwide, there is little awareness and understanding in CEE of the need for palliative care, and most cancer patients die without adequate pain control. The Foundation’s partner in Romania, Hospice Casa Sperantei, is engaging nurses and nurse leaders to expand the reach of palliative care to cancer patients throughout CEE and to integrate palliative care in the formal nursing education system.

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to help reduce health disparities by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease.

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