Former WHO and UN Advisor
Actually, I am just enormously fortunate because I’ve had a life, which has enabled me to work on many different issues in a lot of different places. And in the process I’ve really come to recognize the importance of enabling people to have more control over their health. And that’s why I am here today. I will start with a few minutes talking about breast cancer as a public health doctor. Because I think in a way that’s what you’d expect of me. But then what I want to do is to focus on DearMamma and what I believe it offers to women everywhere.
Yes. Breast cancer is a disease that causes enormous suffering to hundreds of thousands of women in our world. We all know people who have experienced breast cancer. We all know people whose lives have been cut short. Often tragically. And so all of us who are working in public health really long for there to be ways to reduce the suffering due to this disease. And as Sonja Dinner has just said. One of the biggest difficulties is that it is a disease associated with stigma and shame. I don’t personally understand why but I can venture some guesses. But the reality is that early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer does give us extraordinary results. And that too often the diagnosis is delayed and that leads unfortunately to an early death.
Now, we have in this room women who are alive. Who have had breast cancer and who are fighting and winning their own battle so that they can continue, with their families, with their communities, living the full lives they want to live. And one of the aweful indignities of our world is that experience is not available to every woman. And that’s why any activity that can increase the ability of individual women to be able to survive breast cancer and to live well with the illness. Any innovation that can do that, is to be welcomed. But if that innovation also contributes to services that enable women not only to identify that they may have a disease but also to get treatment as well. Then that is real progress. And if that innovation goes one step further and takes the issue into society so that people in positions of authority and power can stand up and say: “The situation for people with breast cancer is unsatisfactory, its an indignity, it’s actually offensive that so many women are unable to get access to care”, then it’s a very special innovation indeed. Helping the individual woman. Helping women in the community. And then helping to get the issue into the attention of society.
And ladies and gentlemen, that’s what I believe DearMamma has the potential to do. Helping individuals. Helping establish good services. And helping get the issue higher up the ladder of political attention so that it is taken more seriously.
So as somebody who has done international health all my professional life it’s a real honour to be standing in front of you and saying to all of you: I believe that this innovation has extraordinary potential for women everywhere. And because it has potential for women everywhere I hope that the men who are experiencing this and who are part of this will themselves embrace this innovation and themselves say: “We want all women to be better able to deal with the threat of breast cancer in their lives”.