Guidelines for Improving Breast Health Care in Limited Resource Countries: The Breast Health Global Initiative

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Breast cancer is an increasingly urgent problem in low- and mid-level resource regions of the world. Despite knowing the optimal management strategy based on guidelines developed in wealthy countries, clinicians are forced to provide less-than-optimal care when diagnostic or treatment resources are lacking. For this reason, it is important to identify which resources most effectively fill health care needs in limited-resource regions, where patients commonly present with more advanced disease at diagnosis, and to provide guidance on how new resource allocations should be made to maximize improvement in outcome. Established in 2002, the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI) created an international health alliance to develop evidence-based guidelines for countries with limited resources to improve breast health outcomes. The BHGI serves as a program for international guideline development and as a hub for linkage among clinicians, governmental health agencies, and advocacy groups to translate guidelines into policy and practice. The BHGI collaborated with 12 national and international health organizations, cancer societies, and nongovernmental organizations to host 2 BHGI international summits. The evidence-based BHGI guidelines, developed at the 2002 Global Summit, were published in 2003 as a theoretical treatise on international breast health care. These guidelines were then updated and expanded at the 2005 Global Summit into a fully comprehensive and flexible framework to permit incremental improvements in health care delivery, based on outcomes, cost, cost-effectiveness, and use of health care services.

Correspondence: Benjamin O. Anderson, MD, Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Box 356410, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail: banderso@u.washington.edu
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