Despite medical advances, breast cancer remains a grave malady. The journal Lancet recently wrote that breast tumors diagnosed in women constitute 10 percent of all new cancers and account for over 1.6 percent of mortality in women globally. And that’s the sunny side of the story. In parts of the world like the Middle East, women diagnosed with breast cancer are almost 10 years younger than in western countries. Worse, most of these patients are already in the advanced stage of the disease.
GE is working to change this. Last fall GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt launched a $1 billion global campaign against cancer to deliver better care to 10 million patients by 2020. Results have started rolling in. Last week GE announced the names of the first five cancer diagnostics innovators who received funding from the $100 million healthymagination challenge. This week the Saudi Ministry of Health, in partnership with GE, kicked off a comprehensive program to attack breast cancer in Saudi Arabia. “The vision here is to reduce the mortality rate and the burden caused by breast cancer,” says Ali Saleh, GE’s general manager for market development covering Russia & CIS, Turkey & Central Asia, Middle East and Africa. “The mission is to promote health awareness among women about breast cancer, with emphasis on early detection.”
Healthymagination mobile breast cancer clinics are equipped with GE’s Senographe Essential digital mammography machines.
The program, which takes place under the patronage of Princess Hessa Al-Shaalan, aims to give 10,000 Saudi women access to screening in 2012 and also provide access to care. GE helped train Ministry employees and local staff involved in the program, set up a call center where women schedule appointments, and launched a dedicated website focused on the disease and the importance of early diagnosis. It also equipped three mobile clinics with GE technology, and provided IT systems that electronically transmit patient scans and data to the King Fahad Medical City for analysis. GE also helped to structure screening and care pathway for each patient, depending on their breast cancer risk profile.
“GE is honoured to have served as a partner in extending our experience to the development of an operating model for the Breast Cancer Screening Program. This comprehensive program to manage breast cancer will serve as a model for the entire Middle East region,” said Karim Karti, President and CEO of GE Healthcare for Russia & CIS, Turkey & Central Asia, Middle East and Africa. “The program’s emphasis on awareness building and early diagnosis will significantly enhance the effectiveness of treatment and reduce healthcare costs.”