Manaus, Brazil — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced this week the launch of a nationwide program for breast and cervical cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
"I know from experience that cancer is curable when it is treated early," the president said. “I had cancer, it was detected early, and was cured. I want women to have access to the same things I did.”
In 2009, while working as chief of staff for President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The early detection of the cancer during a routine mammogram was key to her rapid recovery. Rousseff remained in her position while she underwent a four-month course of chemotherapy.
The government will invest 2.8 billion U.S. dollars (4.5 billion reais) for the new prevention and treatment program, designed to span a four-year period. Resources will strengthen primary care as well as the outpatient and hospital network of the Brazilian Public Health System. According to President Rousseff, the federal government will provide free mammograms in public hospitals as well as free cervical smear exams for all women aged 25 to 59.
Brazil has some 4,000 mammography facilities, with half located in public hospitals. Under the new program, 20 new centers specializing in breast and cervical cancer will open in Brazil's northern and northeastern regions, which are the country's poorest. In addition, all public hospitals will increase investment in cancer treatments. These plans support the Oncology Care National Policy created in 2005 and aim to promote information and awareness while improving the accessibility and quality of breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA) aim to monitor mammography quality and efficiency using a special task force comprised of INCA, the Brazilian College of Radiology, and federal, state, and municipal health surveillance agencies.
The national program sets out to:
- Roll out 50 specialized centers in underserved areas of Brazil, which will ensure timely treatment following presentation
- Create 32 new specialized treatment centers in hospitals
- Improve treatment infrastructure in 48 hospitals
Technical support, resources, and the development of specialized training centers for health professionals will all aid in the control of cervical cancer. Additionally, the new national program will promote cervical cancer screening practices, ensure the quality of examinations, and guarantee timely treatment under guidelines and recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
INCA has been a key collaborator of the American Cancer Society (ACS), and ACS has worked closely with INCA to encourage improvement in access to and quality of cancer care in Brazil, with a special emphasis on women’s cancers. ACS commends President Dilma Rousseff and the Ministry of Health for their commitment to breast and cervical cancer control.
For more information, click on the link bellow (in Portuguese): http://tinyurl.com/435cfm5