The Breast Society of Ghana (BSoG) has advocated a waiver on imported medications used for the treatment of breast cancer patients in the country.
This when done by government, would go a long way in reducing cost of treatment for the disease, BSoG, a nongovernment organisation (NGO) has said.
Senior Specialist Radiation and Clinical Oncologist, Dr Hannah Ayettey, who is the president for BSoG made the appeal yesterday at the launch of BSoG’s breast cancer awareness week celebration in Accra.
She said many women, despite reporting early symptoms of breast cancer could not survive the disease due to financial constraints, adding that if taxes for all breast cancer related drugs were removed, more women in the country could afford treatment, increasing survival rate of the ailment.
According to her, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) covered only some aspects of the treatment for breast cancer, therefore more needed to be done in terms of reducing the financial burden of the treatment on patients and their families.
“I must commend the NHIS for the support it is currently giving breast cancer patients, we really appreciate it but if more can be done we will be happier, broadening coverage of NHIS for breast cancer treatment would really go a long way in saving more lives.”
“Removing taxes on imported breast cancer medications should be considered. This is very important to us because pharmacists are paying too much to clear such drugs – they are extremely expensive,” she added.
DrAyettey bemoaned that breast cancer was affecting many younger Ghanaians, including teenagers and called for very pragmatic steps to be taken in managing the situation.
She stressed the need for authorities to ensure health facilities were well equipped, with well trained healthcare givers for the proper management of breast diseases, especially cancer.
“Managing cancer is serious work and should not be taken lightly at all” she stressed.
According to her, it was important for health facilities across the country to be capable of offering mammogram and other diagnostic services to promote early detection of breast cancer.
Explaining, she stated that access to well equipped hospitals and centers with appropriate equipment, availability of requisite human resource for management of cancer, access to treatment guidelines and management protocols from the primary healthcare level to the tertiary level and properly outlined referral pathways were very necessary in treatment of breast cancer.
She also mentioned that the encouragement ofmulti-institutional research, funding to support research at all levels and recognising individuals and institutions for publications on breast cancer would go a long way in winning the fight against the disease.
In a speech read on her behalf, Dr Efua Commeh, acting programme manager, non communicable diseases of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicated that to address breast cancer, intensified awareness creation at the community level should be prioritised.
A senior consultant at the National Center for Radiotherapy, Oncology and Nuclear Medicine, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Verna Vanderpuye in her remarks dispelled rumors that the sucking of breasts by men reduced the risk of breast cancer among women.
“The only scientifically proven sucking that could possibly reduce the risk of breast cancer occurring is the sucking of babies who are breastfeeding.”
BY RAISSA SAMBOU