Ghana Breast Care International

Ghana

The west African country of Ghana has a population of 29 million. The WHO categorises Ghana as a low middle income country. Life expectancy at birth in men is 63 years and 68 years in women.4 
The GLOBOCAN estimates that 16,600 cases of cancer occur annually in Ghana.5 The most frequent cancers in men are cancers of the liver (21.1%), prostate (13.2%), lung (5.3%) and stomach (5.3%).1 The most frequent cancers in women are cancers of the breast (33.9%), cervix (29.4%), ovary (11.3%) and endometrium (4.5%).1 
Breast cancer is the leading malignancy in Ghana. 70% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer are already in the advanced stages of the disease.1
Health spending averages 4.7 % of GDP, public expenditure is 1.8 % and private 2.9 %. Per every 1,000 people there are 1.5 hospital beds per person.1
Ghana has a health insurance system. This was introduced in 2003 to improve the health of the population as the previous system of paying upon treatment, even in cases of emergency, only added to the problem of poverty throughout Ghana.2
Despite the lack of population-based data on cancer in Ghana, there is some evidence of the public health importance of cancer in Ghana. A comprehensive program to combat non-communicable diseases needs to be implemented. A cancer registry does exist in Kumasi, it began in 2004 as a hospital based cancer registry and became population based in 2012. To develop and maintain such a system is a big challenge as there is no single national identification system as well as poor distribution of cancer expertise for both diagnosis and treatment.1 There are currently some activities with implications for cancer control and prevention. Breast Care International, run by Dr. Wiafe, holds regular events, talks, screenings, fundraisers and supports a group of survivors of cancer who name themselves Peace and Love Survivors Association (PALSA). 

Breast Care International

The ghanan charity Breast Care international takes it upon themselves to  spread the word about breast cancer with as many women as possible, throughout Ghana. Achieving this through raising awareness about the risks of cancer for women and campaigning for early detection and prompt treatments. They want to guarantee the women of Ghana access to prevantative treatments and catch the disease before it’s too late. 

The services of BCI include clinical screenings, awareness campaigns, diagnosis, advice, treatment and rehabilitation steps. In 2002 the BCI created the Breast cancer survivors association (PALSA)

Dr. Wiafe Addai, the director of the charity and breast cancer surgeon leads an aggressive grassroots campaign. Using her determination and charisma, she denounces the myths surrounding breast cancer, and spreads truths and realities throughout Ghana. Constantly emphasisng the importance of early detection and the consequences of treatments by travelling to local communitiy meetings and churches. Dr. Wiafe Addai can often be seen in both local and international media channels. Her cooperation works together with schools, youth groups, especiall younger girls, raising awareness about breast cancer. Serving not only the purpose of educating younger people about the disease, but also to have the information spread within their closer circles. The young girls are encouraged to speak to family members and friends. 

Since its creation in 2002 BCI has developed many strategies to demystify breast cancer and to gain recognition from women about their roles within society. BCI is supported by financial and medicinal donations alongside many loyal volunteers who give up their weekends to further the awareness campaigns. One can often find them travelling through rural areas to carry out different programs and to reach the majority of women in the areas with the worst health care. The organisation is based in Kumasi, the second biggest town in the country and belongs to the ‘Peace and Love Hospital’

Breast Care International was awarded the international Arch of Europe Award (IAE) in 2013 – to recognise the excellent engagement, quality and great accomplishment of BCI. 

http://www.breastcareghana.com/

Sources:

  1. http://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2407-14-362
  2. http://www.iccp-portal.org/sites/default/files/plans/Cancer%20Plan%20Ghana%202012-2016.pdf
  3. http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/health/stats.php
  4. http://www.who.int/countries/gha/en/
  5. http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_population.aspx