Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CORDAID)

The Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CORDAID) has developed the Ethiopia Female Cancer Initiative to save the lives of Ethiopian women and girls from preventable female cancers.


Breast and cervical cancers are the leading forms of cancer among women in Ethiopia and the first and second leading causes of cancer death, respectively. An estimated 41.8% of women will develop breast cancer and 26.4% will develop cervical cancer, although the actual incidence and mortality are believed to be much higher.

In addition, many patients seek treatment when their cancer is at an advanced stage primarily because of lack of awareness and access to health care services, socio-cultural barriers and inadequate referral systems. The Black Lion Hospital is currently the only cancer referral center in the country, and the estimated wait time for a consultation is six months. Women with incurable breast and cervical cancers also receive poor palliative care and support, leading to grave suffering and undignified deaths.


CORDAID has received $200,000 to increase breast and cervical cancer awareness, strengthen cost-effective screening and treatment methods, help set policy and provide comprehensive care and support in selected areas of Ethiopia. The CORDAID-led Ethiopian Female Cancer Initiative will work with the Ethiopian government and other Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Alliance members on the project.

The project’s intervention efforts will focus on women in three districts and five health centers in the Sidama zone in the Southern Nations and National Populations Region with Beza Youth Health and Counseling Center and three sub-cities in Addis Ababa with Mary Joy Development Association.

In addition:

  • Community outreach efforts will stimulate demand for cancer screening and treatment and provide educational materials.
  • Health Extension Workers and Health Development Army members will be trained to provide comprehensive information about female cancers to the communities and at-risk women.
  • Health professionals will be trained to provide screening, treatment and referral.
  • Basic information about community-based palliative care will be provided to women who are terminally ill, and existing community-based providers will receive palliative care training.
  • Information about the national cancer control plan will be integrated into community-focused activities to stimulate knowledge sharing and to build upon current female cancer policies and programs.

The Ethiopian government and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Alliance members have committed to address female cancer through a combined five-year effort. Following this one-year program, further two-year activities and efforts will be developed and supported at the end of 2015. In addition to the grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, the project also is supported by $300,000 from the CORDAID Global Leaders Council.

CORDAID and a number of partners also received $99,770 to implement a mapping exercise to prepare for a three-year program in Oromia and SNNPR regions. This program will train health workers to screen for breast cancer, treat pre-cancerous cervical cancer lesions and build the capacity of Regional Health Bureaus to manage the program and introduce it to other districts.

CORDAID led the planning and mapping phase of a project to form a coalition for the Ethiopian Female Cancer Initiative, which will enable the organization to better assess the capacity of Ethiopian non-governmental organizations and national associations. The results of the mapping exercise are used to plan for long-term programs and to secure ongoing support and collaboration in the effort to provide early screening, detection and treatment of female cancers.


  • CORDAID-Ethiopia
  • Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Alliance (PRRR)
  • National Cancer Control Advisory Committee
  • Beza Youth Health and Counseling Center
  • Mary Joy Development Association
  • The Female Cancer Foundation (of the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands)
  • Federal Ministries of Health and Women and Child Affairs of Ethiopia
  • Relevant Regional Health Bureaus
  • University of Addis Ababa School of Public Health