Health News Fri, 31 Oct 2008

MOWAC pledges to National Breast Cancer Fund

Accra, Oct. 31, GNA - The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC) on Thursday pledged GH¢100,000 cedis to the National Breast Cancer Fund set up to help in breast cancer screening programmes, research as well support women who cannot afford the full cost of treating the disease. Hajia Alima Mahama, the sector Minister who made the pledge, appealed to the public to contribute immensely to the fund in order to sustain it.

Speaking at the re-launch of the National Breast Cancer Fund and the inauguration of a 12-member board of trustees in Accra, she said the subject of breast cancer concerned all humanity especially women who were at the prime of their lives. Causes of breast cancer were not known but some risk factors are genetic predisposition, consumption of fatty foods; early menstruation and late start of menopause have been identified. The disease takes five to nine years to show up. Lump in the breast, retraction of the nipple, change in the skin of the nipple, dramatic increase in the size of the breast and discharge or bleeding from the nipple have also been identified as symptoms of the disease.

Hajia Alima said breast cancer like all other cancers was a terminal disease with 99 per cent of all cases being women with men taking one per cent. The Minister explained that while the disease at its early stages could be managed, the late state of the cancer could not be easily managed and treated.

Hajia Alima therefore stressed the need to raise more public awareness about the morbidity and mortality that the disease could cause. She reminded women about government's invention on the introduction of a programme for breast and prostrate cancer screening which would include the provision of subsidy for mammography in all public and private hospitals for women from the age of 40 and above that are registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). She therefore encouraged all women to register under the NHIS so that they could benefit from the subsidies.

The Minister said the fund would be launched at all the regional capitals to ensure that the active involvement of all Ghanaians and requested women to do self examination on their breast every month. "We would also like to remind you to use that self examination period to contribute to the fund," she added.

She commended SMS Ghana for providing them with free air time that enabled the public to send text messages to make donations on number BCF 1947 on all the cell phone networks. In a speech read for her, Dr Gladys Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health (MOH), said the incidence of the breast cancer in Ghana had been estimated at 50 to 70 cases in very 100,000 women. Dr Ashitey described that as very frightening considering the fact that survival rate was very low.

She said between 2003 and 2007, the radiotherapy unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital alone saw an average of 207 patients a year, adding that, "that was out of an average of 745 new cancers cases a year". "In Ghana it has been observed that the incidence of the disease peaks at age 40 to 49, which is 10 years earlier than the western world," she noted.

The Deputy Minister therefore tasked women to minimise their chances of being affected by the disease by undergoing regular breast examination so that lives could be saved. She appealed to the board to review the criteria as to who would be a beneficiary and modalities for assessing the fund and adopt strategies that would sustain the fund.

A survivor of the breast cancer, Madam Comfort Otubea Ansah, commended government for setting up the fund to support needy women. She appealed to women not to hesitate to go for treatment whenever they were diagnosed. Ghana Fire Service Ladies and the Wold Vision donated GH¢100 cedis each to the fund. 31 Oct. 08

Source: GNA