Every year, approximately 10,000 Brazilian women die from breast cancer and 4,000 succumb to uterine cervical cancer. Eighty-five percent of those deaths may have been avoided with early detection. In Camaçari, an area in Brazil with more than 186,000 people, poverty contributes to poor health conditions. Monsanto’s Ana Viana led an effort to help Camaçari’s manufacturing location find a way to help these impoverished women.
“Statistics from the Brazilian Ministry of Health state that women over 40 are more likely to develop breast and cervical cancer,” Ana Viana, Monsanto Brazil’s Community Affairs analyst, said. “The Women’s Health project’s objective is to prevent cancer through educational guidance and clinical diagnosis for low-income women living in Camaçari City, which has an incidence of disease 10 times higher than [Brazil’s] national average.”
A group of Monsanto employees in Brazil partnered with Brazil’s Secretary of Health to set up Women’s Health. The program targets women over the age of 40 who haven’t had preventative or related examinations for more than a year. The Secretary of Health helped the team identify communities of women in need with no access to the public health system. Since the program began in 2006, it has provided clinical examinations for 4,000 women and provided H1N1 vaccinations to 200 women.
“The most difficult aspect of this project was accessing the places where these women live because no public transportation reaches those areas,” Viana said. “It was also difficult gaining their confidence to educate them about prevention.”
In the areas the program reaches, many elderly women have never seen a gynecologist. After diagnosing existing problems, the women are guided by the Secretary of Health to the appropriate treatment in public hospitals.
“It’s rewarding to know that Monsanto is making a difference for those women and their families by improving their quality of life,” Viana said. “This is an awesome way for Monsanto to give back to the community.”
The team hopes to maintain and expand the program in the future to cover younger women for early detection of breast, uterine and cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases. They also hope the results of Women’s Health will encourage Brazil’s Secretary of Health to develop additional projects to increase disease prevention.
This post is excerpted from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. To see the fill report, please visit Monsanto.com.
Top photograph: Employee Ana Viana speaking to a group of women involved in the project.