By Wilfred Golden
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Global cancer specialists have called for concerted efforts to eliminate breast and cervical cancer, which accounts for 51.5 deaths per 100, 000 per year.
Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Dr. Julie Gralow, made the call in Lilongwe on Friday at the opening of the 7th Africa breast and cervical cancer advocacy summit, which took place in Lilongwe.
The Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA) hosted the two-day meeting in collaboration with Women Empowerment Cancer Advocacy Network (WE CAN). The meeting ended on Saturday.
In an interview with journalists, Gralow asked the Ministry of Health in Malawi and its development partners to triple efforts in eliminating the disease.
She disclosed that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. She, however, stated that the cancer is no longer the leading cause of death because in “many countries that we have screened it is survivable”.
“But breast cancer and cervical cancer in Sub Saharan Africa are number one and two some countries cervical cancer is more deadly and others breast cancer is also more deadly but they are number one and two and cervical cancer is very uncommon in United States because we do screening starting from the young girls,” said Gralow.
ASCO is propagating advocacy about breast cancer in about 10 countries in the African region where it is introducing and empowering them to identify a solution to breast cancer problems.
It also promotes education and research through an organization.
“We call upon collaboration and partnerships, we can’t do it alone, I don’t know best what works here but my colleagues know what can work best here. It is true that even in some of the countries where they do screening, some choose not to do, some because they don’t know where to go and some they are just afraid. But the best solution is to introduce them to women like those that are here who are powerful and they can say I am a cancer suvivor, and you can also survive cancer, I like the Zambia motto, they talk about today in social media story telling, that motto should cross boarders and support each other and say don’t be afraid,” she stated.
A gynecologist at Kamuzu Central Hospital, Dr. Lameck Chinula, said cervical and breast cancers are serious public health issues amongst Malawian women and they are the most cancer diseases that kill more women.
However, Chinula said Malawi has, over the years, registered increased efforts in reducing the huge burden of cervical and breast cancer.
In her remarks, WOCACA chairperson Charity Salima said the meeting availed Malawi an opportunity to learn best practices in the fight against the disease.
“After this summit we are going to sit down and see what is it we have done, now we will learn lessons from what we have done, what is it we have not did well and what is it we have done well, what we should do so that we should progress forward, it’s a learning situation,” Salima said.
WE CAN organization started in 2003 in Ukraine and they came to East Africa in 2013 in Uganda with the idea of bringing together the advocates for breast and cervical cancer in order to network them in the elimination of these diseases.