By: Razak Baba
The Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang says the delay in presenting breast and cervical cancer for health care is dangerous because it can increase the mortality rate among affected women.
He has therefore advocated that public awareness programmes about breast cancer, including early detection through personal breast examination, seeking health care early and dispelling all myths about breast changes as normal physical development should reach all communities. Dr. Tinkorang was speaking at the launch of Women’s Health Initiative in Kumasi. Razak Baba has more
In Ghana, breast cancer has the highest incidence of all cancers, while cervical cancer is the highest cause of cancer mortality. Each year over four thousand women contract breast cancer out of which almost half of the number die.
For cervical cancer, about three thousand women develop the disease annually, with one-third dying. Ghana has witnessed early detection programmes for breast and cervical cancers through screening, community education, and opportunistic case detection by health professionals. However, the effectiveness of these approaches has been limited due to low coverage, insufficient laboratory capacities for diagnosis, health information systems that are not designed to track patients or monitor performance, barriers that inhibit women’s uptake of services, and inadequate treatment options.
Even where some screening activities exist, there has not been sufficient attention to ensuring completion of appropriate diagnosis and treatment after women receive a positive screening test result or report symptoms suggesting cervical or breast cancer. Because of this failure to provide adequate follow-up care, these women miss the potential benefit from early detection and have a higher-than-average risk to develop cancer or progress to more advanced cancer stages that could have been avoided.
It is this that the Ghana Health Service, in collaboration with Roche Pharmaceuticals and Jhpiego has launched a programme dubbed, “Women’s Health Initiative” in Kumasi. The project seeks to design, develop and demonstrate a service delivery model that will improve access to early detection and treatment of cancers in women.
This model is currently being piloted in the Asante Bekwai Municipality. Its success will be replicated across the country. Speaking at the event, the Country Director for Jhpiego, Dr. Pearl Nanka-Bruce said delaying health care and treatment makes it difficult to manage advanced breast cancer successfully. The General Manager of Roche Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Philip Anderson explained that the focus of the initiative is promoting community ownership to help in the fight against breast and cervical cancers.
The Acting Programme Manager of the Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Wallace Odiko Ollenu spelt out what the success of the Women’s Health Initiative in the Ashanti Region will mean for women in Ghana.
The Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang emphasized the need for appropriate interventions to be instituted for t early diagnosis and treatment of breast and cervical cancers.
The Chief of Nkwantakese, Nana Boakye Yam Ababio who chaired the function, called for active involvement of traditional authorities in the Women’s Health Initiative.