Rebecca Foundation and Roche collaborate to fight breast, cervical cancers

Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Jan. 14, GNA
– First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo has initiated an advocacy project that aims
at the prevention and improving access to the early detection and treatment of
cervical and breast cancers.

With funding from
Roche, an international pharmaceutical company, the effort seeks to increase
awareness and care of breast and cervical cancers in the country, with the goal
of reducing mortality and improving quality of life of women.

Through her Rebecca
Foundation, Mrs Akufo-Addo engaged health experts to deliberate on measures and
modalities that would help in the advocacy and education aimed at reducing
breast and cervical cancers in 10 regional hospitals.

The stakeholders who
attended the workshop included representatives of civil society organizations,
Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Health, as
well as some oncologists and epidemiologists.

Mrs Sheila
Sekyi-Oppong, Strategist at the Rebecca Foundation, who briefed the Ghana News
Agency on the sidelines of the workshop, said the stakeholders were engaged to
help analyse the provision of breast and cervical cancer services and help
identify service gaps.

They would look at
infrastructure provisions and develop high impact short to medium plans to
resolve existing gaps that militate against cancer care.

Mrs Sekyi-Oppong
said the project would be implemented within the National Strategy for Cancer
Control in Ghana (2012 – 2016), and the stakeholders are expected to examine
global trends and good practices that could be adapted meaningfully to Ghana.

“Moreover, the
workshop also seeks to find out what viable cost effective and efficient steps,
beyond the initial advocacy plan could be. The possibilities to be discussed
may focus on the contents of the national Strategy for Cancer Control or
experiences picked up by our experts on the field that would further strengthen

She said among
critical issues identified are advocacy to demystify cancers and early
detections that could save lives and improve treatments.

Training and
capacity building of frontline health workers, especially at the district
health centres and CHPs compound, as well as midwives and community and public
health nurses, would also be undertaken so that they would be able to screen
women who attend antenatal and post-natal services.

She said doctors
would also be encouraged to screen women that attend the hospital for any other
complaints “so we can catch such cancers early and stem the rising tide of
these diseases”.

Mrs Sekyi-Oppong
said a working group has been established out of the workshop and they are
expected to come out with a working plan within a couple of weeks and then “as
much as possible these things would be implemented in a few districts as a
pilot to show the gains and later be translated into the broader national  agenda.  

Earlier during the
discussion, some of the stakeholders decried the fact that only a few women
availed themselves to regular screening for cancer diseases and the fact that
there is currently no national register on cancers in the country.

They recommended the
need to introduce vaccinations for cervical cancer among young girls to ensure
prevention as well as promote healthy lifestyles.