The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, yesterday launched a capacity building project to help reduce the high incidence of breast and cervical cancer cases in Ghana.
The project, being rolled out in three districts; the West Gonja District of the Savannah region, Birim Central and Sekyere South in the Eastern and Ashanti regions respectively, is to train at least 100 health workers to screen and treat breast and cervical cancer cases at the primary healthcare level.
As part of the project, thermal coagulation machines are to be distributed to the district hospitals of the three project areas to assist in early detection and treatment of cervical cancer.
The project, funded by Roche, a multinational healthcare company, is in collaboration with the Rebecca Foundation and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Mrs Akufo-Addo in a remark at the launch, expressed worry over the high prevalence of breast and cervical cancer in the country, contributing significantly to mortality rate.
With an estimated 4,400 cases of breast cancer and 2,797 cases of cervical cancer recorded in 2020 resulting in almost 50 percent deaths in the country, the First Lady cited factorsincluding late detection, inadequate access to information, stigma and fear as accounting for the rise.
“Treatment of breast and cervical has improved over the years globally through effective detection, screening and treatment options.
The tragedy is that many of these women succumb to the disease due to late reporting. We cannot afford to lose them and we should not have to,” she stated.
The First Lady said, it is in view with this that “I took advantage of the support offered by Roche to improve the response and treatment for breast and cervical cancers in Ghana.”
Charging the Municipal and District Chief Executives in the project areas to fully own and commit to the project, she asked that they supported community awareness and training activities in the areas to ensure its scale up in the nearest future.
Mrs Akufo-Addo called on corporate agencies and individuals to support the project in the hope that “together, we will get ahead of breast and cervical cancers in Ghana.”
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the GHS, said strategies to address cancers required partnerships and multi-stakeholder inputs to improve patient outcomes.
He said despite the rise in non-communicable diseases (NCD) in the country, the country was making significant strides in addressing the threat, adding that the launch of the NCD Policy and the formation of the NCD Multi-sectoral Steering Committee, among other interventions were to tackle the surge.
According to Dr Kuma-Aboagye, strategic partnership being used for the project would go a long way “to empower the primary healthcare providers to better manage NCD conditions at the foundation of our health system.”
The Acting NCD Programme Manager, GHS, Dr Efua Commeh, explained that the three districts were selected for the project because they needed such interventions, as well as increased sensitisation and on the two most prevailing female cancers.
She expressed the hope that the success of the project would propel more support from other stakeholders to scale it up to other districts in the country to reduce the NCD burden.
Mr John Klu, Lead Access, Policy and Governmental Affairs, Roche, pledged his organisation’sreadiness to support health concerns of women aside its support to childhood cancers in Ghana.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH