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P&G launches women's cancer awareness campaign

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- What can you do in six minutes? It would seem impossible to fit anything life-changing into that sliver of time, but thanks to Procter & Gamble (P&G) Taiwan's 20 years of promotion, almost every Taiwanese will reply without a doubt: You can “save a life in six minutes.”

With supermodel Lin Chi-ling as the face of its gynecological cancer prevention campaign, global multinational consumer goods company P&G has reached the 20-year milestone in its efforts to prevent cancer among women, and it will be launching this year's health campaign in cooperation with numerous cancer foundations in Taiwan. More than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cancer every year, and 40 percent of these cases are cancers of the breast, cervix, uterus or ovaries. Women over 50 years old are at a higher risk for these illnesses and are encouraged to receive regular checkups and be aware of any abnormal changes in their body.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare's Health Promotion Administration (HPA) has been offering cervical smear tests for women over 30 years old since 1995, and it has reduced cases of cervical cancer by 57 percent in the 15 years since its launch. Women are encouraged to take one test every three years.

Free breast cancer screenings are also offered to women — between the ages of 45 to 69 and those with a history of breast cancer in their families — in Taiwan once every two years.

“Thanks to the support from government departments and local health bureaus, our campaign is now 20 years old and ready to launch before this year's International Women's Day,” said Barbara Liang (梁斯怡), the communications director for P&G's Hong Kong & Taiwan branch. Liang noted that over 5 million women have taken breast cancer and pap smear tests this year, and she hopes the campaign will draw even more.

NT$6 for Each Click

“Our slogan for 2014 is to 'Protect Mom and Protect Yourself.' Did you know that seven out of every 31 gynecological cancer patients die of the disease? Have the busy women of our times spent the 6 minutes needed to ensure their health?” asked Liang.

According to HPA statistics from 2011, the discovery rate for early stage breast cancer (stage zero, one and two) in Taiwan was 76.3 percent while the rate for early stage cervical cancer (stage zero and one) was 85 percent. The five-year survival rate for early-stage discovery of both cancers was around 80 to 90 percent.

The campaign was also promoted on social media, as P&G hoped to glean attention from Taiwan's 14 million Facebook users; NT$6 will be donated to gynecological cancer prevention foundations each time a user clicks the “join the campaign” button, said Liang.

Despite the decrease in gynecological cancer cases and death rates, HPA's Cancer Control Division Director Wu Chien-yuan (吳建遠) called attention to the fact that the deaths caused by these cancers are still comparatively higher than in other countries, and there are many obstacles to overcome. “The most important fact is that many women are less than willing to take the tests and screenings; they either feel the tests are too much trouble, they are too busy for them or they are embarrassed or are wary of any pain that might be caused by the screening. Many women are liable to miss the best time for cancer treatment,” said Wu, who pointed out that the responsibility to ensure the tests were taken is left to thousands of health bureau staff.

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The Ministry of Health and Welfare's Health Promotion Administration's (HPA) Cancer Control Division Director Wu Chien-yuan (吳建遠), third right, poses with Barbara Liang (梁斯怡), the communications director for P&G's Hong Kong & Taiwan branch.(Courtesy of Veronika Tomanova)

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