By: Petri Salopera, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Goldcorp El Morro
October is breast cancer awareness month. To address one of the leading causes of death amongst Latin American women, Goldcorp El Morro undertook a breast-cancer screening initiative that was the result of an agreement between the National Women’s Service of the Atacama Region (Sernam Atacama), and the Arturo López Pérez Foundation for mobile mammography.
Sernam Atacama regional director, María Teresa Cañas explains, “breast cancer is responsible for the death of 11 out of every 100,000 people in Chile. It’s often when the illness is not detected early, that it can lead to death.”
Dating back to 2005, a national health program progressively introduced free mammography screenings for women aged 50 and older. Three years later the rates of compliance with mammographic screening was only 12% in Santiago, the capital city of Chile and even less so in more rural settings.
Irma Gatica Pastén, a resident of San Félix, has heard the statistics about women and breast cancer. While she hasn’t experienced any symptoms, like most women, the concern still lingered in the back of her mind. It wasn’t until she had the opportunity to get tested by the Goldcorp-sponsored mobile mammogram unit in her small Chilean community of San Félix, that Pastén was able to put her mind at ease.
“Being able to do this exam enabled me to be a little more at peace about my health,” she says.
Romina Maldonado Gutierrez also sees mammograms as an important aspect to women’s health.
“My mother passed away from breast cancer, she was very young, just 29 years old. That’s why I believe it’s so important to prevent this disease and encourage all women to not put this exam off. Don’t be afraid. It’s for the benefit of every one of us.”
Gatica Pastén and Maldonado Gutierrez are among 200 women in the Huasco province who were tested by the mobile mammogram unit of the Arturo López Pérez Foundation.
Of the 200 women tested, breast cancer was detected in one; she has gone on to receive further treatment. In addition, 24 women were identified for need of a secondary examination and possible treatment. Without the mobile clinic, their symptoms may not have been detected until it was too late.
The prevention program at El Morro represents Goldcorp’s commitment to caring for our employees, their families as well as the communities in which we operate.
The public-private alliance created by Sernam and Goldcorp El Morro has received the support and appreciations from politicians at all levels of government in the region.
For clients of the clinic like Gutierrez and Pasten, it has brought a new sense of relief and optimism.