AMMAN (AFP) — US First Lady Laura Bush announced Thursday in Jordan that the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Morocco have been included in a US-Middle East partnership to raise awareness of breast cancer.
"Today I am happy to announce that the US-Middle East project will reach more women," Bush told breast cancer survivors and officials at the King Hussein Cancer Centre in Amman, the final leg of a regional tour.
"We are going to expand to Morocco, the Palestinian territories and Egypt next year, with one and a half million dollars funded from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)," said Bush, whose tour included the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The UAE and Jordan were the first countries in the region to join the US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research in 2006.
"Women in these countries will benefit from community screening and awareness activities ... leading to early detection," she said.
An estimated 25 million women worldwide will be diagnosed with breast cancer over the next 25 years, said the US-Middle East partnership, warning that 10 million women could die without a cure.
As she toured the King Hussein Cancer Centre, named after King Abdullah II's later father who died of cancer in 1999, Bush unveiled a model of a breast cancer-screening centre, to be built in a district of western Amman.
The US aid agency and Jordanian health ministry contributed 255,000 dollars to the screening centre, to be operational from February 2008.
"The screening centre will be the first of its kind in Jordan and will provide comprehensive breast health services in a comfortable and private environment," a statement said.
Bush also visited child cancer patients and gave them books after they presented her with a painting that they had drawn.
A former teacher and librarian, Bush has a personal history with breast cancer, as both her mother and grandmother had the illness, her chief of staff Anita McBride said.
She is expected to visit the ancient red-rose city of Petra in southern Jordan on Friday before winding up the tour.
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