Making a lasting impact in Latvia
Roche Latvia has been instrumental in the launch of an official postage stamp to support breast cancer awareness.
For the third year in a row, colleagues in Riga have taken an active part in the country’s social and educational breast cancer and early diagnosis awareness campaign. It encourages women aged 50 to 69 to undergo state-funded mammography checks. But the 2013 edition was given an artistic yet practical touch in the form of a national postage stamp and specially designed envelope.
Latvia’s breast cancer awareness activities, organized by the Latvian Basketball Union and Vita, a breast cancer patients’ organization, traditionally take place in April and May. Roche Oncology Business Manager Rets Renemanis had come up with the idea of a dedicated stamp in 2012 and the Oncology team took it up with Latvijas Pasts (Latvia’s Post). As it turned out, issuing a new stamp is a highly regulated process and a number of hurdles had to be overcome. The coveted mark finally reached post offices and mailboxes in October 2013, the international breast cancer month.
Why a stamp?
Due to the digital revolution, the uses of postal mail or “snail mail” as it is often nicknamed, have changed but it is still a valuable system. Around Christmas and New Year, the volume of traditional mail increases and many people like to store collections of letters from friends and loved ones, while stamp collectors are on the lookout for limited editions. The team in Riga seized this opportunity to widen the reach of the spring campaign and to target the largest possible audience.
It has been a full success and the initiative was also highly praised by the country’s Minister of Health and the medical society which promoted it as the first choice for Christmas postcards. In Latvia, the breast cancer prevalence in 2012 was 1189 per 100,000 women (country population per census 2011: 2.07 million, projection 2015: 2.21 million. Source: Stateman’s Yearbook 2014.)
First but not last
With a print run of 1.5 million, the stamp has been an attractive addition to existing post marks, particularly when used with the dedicated envelope. Both stamp and envelope carry the campaign’s main slogan: “Pārbaudi krūtis, lai dzīvotu!” (Check your breasts in order to live!), while the envelope also displays the campaign’s web address.
The stamp represents stylized apple blossoms, a theme proposed by Inesa Kozlovska, Roche Product Manager for Herceptin, and designed by Latvian post stamps designer Ģirts Grīva. In the past year, the local post issued 26 thematic stamps, but this is the first edition ever devoted to a disease and its early diagnosis. Due to Roche’s success, the Latvian Ministry of Health is already in discussion with Latvijas Pasts on continuing to publish stamps dedicated to health themes.