Planned Parenthood will invest $3 million in recent donations to fund a more extensive breast health campaign, reports The Washington Post. The program will include cost coverage for more widespread breast health diagnostics, educational efforts, as well as outreach programs.
The monies were given to the organization shortly after Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced it would discontinue grants to Planned Parenthood— a decision eventually overturned due to public outcry. Because of the amount of support for continued breast health exams, Planned Parenthood executives say they felt it only appropriate to use the money to expand those specific services.
“Given the events of the last year, and the contributions that came in specifically around the conversation about breast health and our work with Komen,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, “we felt it was important to use that money to expand access and education. We felt like we had a real opportunity here to do something new.”
The organization will expand upon the more than 700,000 free basic breast examinations it provided during 2011, assigning over $1 million toward further diagnostics if an abnormality is detected. With the new funding, women will have access to services such as mammograms, biopsies and ultrasounds.
“Early detection is critical in identifying breast cancer at its most treatable stages and saving women’s lives,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in an official press release. “Ninety-four percent of our patients are under the age of 40, and for these women, clinical breast exams are key to recognizing potential problems early. This expanded program will help us provide more patients with these vital screenings, and also ensure that more patients in need can get specialized follow up care, like ultrasounds or biopsies.”
The remaining $2 million dollars will be allocated toward Hispanic outreach and educational programs and awareness initiatives.
“Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women. The more Planned Parenthood promotores can reach Latinas in communities and connect them to breast health services, the more we can start to reduce the rates of breast cancer deaths among Latinas,” said Cecile Richards.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), breast cancer is the number one cancer-related cause of death among Latinas. Out of the 200,000 new breast cancer diagnoses seen annually in the United States, approximately 14,000 are Hispanic women, many of whom have advanced stages of the disease due to health disparities related to cost, access to health care, and lack of insurance coverage and preventative care.
The ACS states prevention programs, such as those provided by Planned Parenthood, can make a huge difference in closing the health care gap when it comes to Latinas and breast cancer.
“Local outreach programs and culturally targeted interventions by lay Hispanic health advisors along with physician encouragement to promote the benefits of early cancer detection are also effective strategies for improving cancer screening participation within Hispanic communities,” wrote the ACS.
Planned Parenthood intends to make sure the $3 million dollar breast health initiative creates more opportunities within the community, not just fills in existing gaps.
The agency has announced they want to continue providing financial support for other local programs, while expanding breast cancer services.
“We want to make sure nobody lost services or funding,” Richards said. “The Komen partnerships are local. Some have continued, some haven’t for whatever reason. We’ve made sure everyone has gotten the funding they expected.”