Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us yet again. And yet there is no evidence on the ground that much has been done since last October.
Breast cancer awareness should be a national mindset with every relevant health institution and authorities focused on this important issue on a daily basis, not just one month in a year.
Bringing breast cancer under control will require deliberate and concerted investment in equipment, facilities and training throughout the year. October should be the month the country shares the milestones in these areas since the last breast cancer month.
In Zimbabwe, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer there were an estimated 2 000 cases and more than 900 deaths in 2018.
Sadly, only a fraction of these patients are documented as presenting to care with a breast cancer diagnosis in Zimbabwe.
Because little has been done since October last year and over the years, this breast cancer month only brings into sharp focus the glaring challenges our health sector is battling with.
Why are most of our women dying of breast cancer when it can be managed? Why do we only hear about breast cancer when it’s in October?
Kadzatsa Webster and Ndarukwa-Jambwa Sandra in their research that focused on breast cancer treatment in resource-constrained countries: A Zimbabwean Perspective state that full complement of specialised oncology services is only available in Harare and Bulawayo. This is a shocking revelation and confirms that we are not close to making mammograms available to the majority of women in Zimbabwe.
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If breast cancer is indeed the second most common cancer among women, then we urgently need more access to services and treatment to help save women’s lives.
Health care should be easily accessible to everyone.
Greater investment is needed to support improved breast cancer care delivery systems and reduce the pain and loss of precious lives. Breast cancer is highly treatable and often curable.
Fighting breast cancer will take more than just wearing pink in October. We must change our mindsets and prioritize the fight against breast cancer every night and day in Zimbabwe.
Communities must be educated on fighting breast cancer so that we change community mindsets and join hands in fighting this dangerous but manageable monster.
Let’s fight breast cancer together and make a difference 24/7.