- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

First lady Laura Bush yesterday announced a program to fight breast cancer in the Middle East, praising the effort as a form of diplomacy that would create “lasting friendships” between that region and the United States.

Speaking at the 2006 Mission Conference of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Mrs. Bush said, “The pain of losing a loved one to breast cancer — and the joy of seeing a loved one triumph over it — are universal.”

The U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research will include the Komen foundation, the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

“Too many women around the world are still too embarrassed or too uninformed to seek the treatment they need in time to save their lives,” Mrs. Bush said.

To improve prevention and treatment of the disease in the Middle East, the partnership will provide resources to groups interested in increasing breast health outreach.

Mrs. Bush emphasized the need for “partnerships that allow governments, hospitals, researchers and survivors to work with each other and to join the global effort to defeat breast cancer.”

The partnership was initiated by the Middle East Partnership Initiative and the State Department’s office of public diplomacy.

“Together, these partners will develop awareness campaigns suited to each country. They’ll increase research, training and community-outreach efforts and help women build the knowledge and the confidence they need to be in charge of their own health,” Mrs. Bush said.

As part of the effort, researchers at Johns Hopkins will help the United Arab Emirates establish a breast cancer center, while the Houston-based Anderson center will share its knowledge with Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center’s breast cancer research unit.

Future partners in the program may include Morocco and Jordan, which are in discussions with the State Department.

Mrs. Bush praised the Komen foundation’s “extraordinary work to raise breast cancer awareness” in the United States. Founded in 1982 “to eradicate breast cancer through research, education, screening and treatment,” the foundation, its affiliates and partners have spent more than $630 million to combat the disease, which causes the deaths of about 40,000 women in the United States every year.

Mrs. Bush said the Middle East partnership is “the very best kind of public diplomacy, [which] will help build lasting friendships between our countries.”

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