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    March 8, 2011

    HeLa Cells Mentioned at House of Lords Parliamentary Debate on International Women’s Day

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    “My Lords,” Lord Patel began at the House of Lords debate today to mark the International Women’s Day Centenary, “many of you will have heard of HeLa cells, but perhaps not….HeLa cells are so called because they were originally obtained from Henrietta Lacks-without her consent.” Lord Patel ended by advocating for the “launch [of] a global Henrietta Lack fund to treat women with cervical cancer and prevent it developing.”

    It is time for humanity to pay back the debt to Henrietta Lacks. How? Every two minutes in the world a woman dies of cervical cancer. More than 500,000 women develop cervical cancer every year, the majority in countries in Africa and Asia. To a majority of young girls in the world, a cervical cancer vaccine to prevent that disease is not available because it is too costly for those countries to buy and set up programmes such as those we have here. There is an opportunity for us to do so today, and the Minister, without any cost to the UK Government, could launch a UN fund to which we should all contribute-including the industry, which has made billions of dollars in revenue. We should launch a global Henrietta Lack fund to treat women with cervical cancer and prevent it developing.

    To read the entire debate, visit www.publications.parliament.uk.

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    The Henrietta Lacks Foundation

    The Henrietta Lacks Foundation strives to provide financial assistance to needy individuals who have made important contributions to scientific research without their knowledge or consent.