NAIROBI, Kenya — On July 21, 2015, the First Lady Mrs. Lordina Mahama addressed the Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer (SCCA) conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
She called on fellow first ladies in Africa to lead a planned and sustained campaign and work with related organizations and agencies to support cancer prevention and control in Africa.
The theme for the SCCA conference was “Investing to Save Lives, the Role of Public Private Sector Partnerships.” In attendance were first ladies, representatives from related organizations, parliamentarians, ministers of health, health professionals and scientists.
Mahama informed the audience that approximately 2,900 women in Ghana are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that 6.7 million women ages 15 and older in Ghana are at risk for developing cervical and breast cancer.
With predictions made by WHO, there will be more than 5,000 new cases of cervical cancer in Ghana by the end of this year. This also comes with the possibility of 3,300 deaths.
Mahama said, “We are all aware that as many as 85 percent of the world’s cervical cancer deaths occur in developing countries and as first ladies, we have been working to support our governments to tackle this and other challenges and the results are showing.”
Although the governments are working to provide more healthcare funds, Mahama suggests that the solution to funding problems lies with non-governmental organizations. She emphasizes the relationships between public and private sector partnerships.
Because women are major contributors to the development of the world’s economies, their health should be a main issue for governments.
Cervical and breast cancer can be very treatable if detected early. Mahama hopes to implement an early detection screening that would be accompanied by proper treatment if necessary.
Specifically in Ghana, there is a need for strengthening the multi-sectoral collaboration to improve public health awareness, improving health services and implementing the “National Strategy for Cancer Control in Ghana.” With these changes, the government hopes to reduce the mortality rate of cancer by 30 percent.
What Mahama is asking for is not seen as a dream. Throughout the developing world, action is being taken to detect cancer in women in its early stages is becoming a main concern.
In Tanzania, girls are being screened in their school years for cervical cancer and receiving the Gardasil vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. It is necessary for all girls to receive effective screening, early detection and take preventative actions.
Mahama informs the audience that some actions, like in Tanzania, are being taken in Ghana. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has immunized some girls against cervical cancer, but there are still many girls that have not.
Immunization campaigns are expensive, but with Mahama’s plan to combine the efforts of African leaders, governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations, girls will not have to experience the pain of fighting cancer.
– Kerri Szulak
Sources: CITI, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance
Photo: News Ghana