Care! It has a good feel, nice ring. Free cancer care is even better for the many who most need it. That was part of a recent announcement by the Hon. Minister of Public Health on the government’s 5-year plan to tackle cancer. It is overdue and encouraging. That is the position of this publication, regardless of who leads this nation forward.
As breast cancer awareness month is being observed, the Ministry of Public Health went airborne to spread the good word during this cancer awareness month of October. Matters should not be limited to any single part of the anatomy, or kind of cancer, or month. The realities of cancer afflictions, cancer fears, and needed cancer hands call for year-round attention (by individuals) and more and more assistance from government. It is a stealthy stalker, a serial one that has touched too many lives too quietly, too unrestrainedly. It is time to fight back. The disease has had too much of a free ride and a clear path to flourish at will, while it has caught many napping, especially women.
Some strategic interventions, preventative measures and treatment are already in place. Now, the Public Health Ministry intends to deliver and highlight focused information on all cancers. That is good; people need the preliminary education. Further, (as reported by KN), Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, during a video presentation on Cancer Care shared that it is “her wish to see all persons in Guyana having unrestricted access to cancer treatment and prevention services.” Unrestricted access to treatment can only be commended and would make a world of difference in the lives of the stricken poor, who have little to nothing to fall back upon when the expensive treatment regimes of cancer stare them in the face. This harsh reality is lived with by numerous helpless cancer patients: there are no cheap cancers, none that could be considered affordable.
Minister Lawrence went on to pinpoint some specifics of what she and her ministry envision: First up would be “at least one mammography will be purchased annually and placed at different health facilities.” Second, she was driving towards “free radiation treatment for which people have been paying astronomical amounts.” And third, “to ensure that we can have a specialised health facility that looks at all types of cancers.”
Many women are unaware or negligent in detecting warning signs of trouble, and those that do, find themselves hobbled from taking the next steps to ascertain if there is a problem. In the fewest words: the urgency of money. Radiation treatments require dozens of sessions, which can be fatiguing on body and draining on finances, which is the same or a worse burden. There is no uncertainty at that stage, merely the unhappy awareness that the funds are too few. Promised assistance by the state, arriving in tranches within the next five years, cannot come quick enough. Last, a specialized hospital for any kind of chronic disease, and particularly ever-present cancer, is a welcome sound. It would be good to see this happening, which could be a boon for many.
As if to make clear the notorious cancer presence, “according to PAHO/WHO, breast cancer kills half a million women globally every year. Fifty per cent of those cases come from developing countries such as Guyana” and “in Guyana, breast cancer is the number one overall,” country chief Dr. Adu-Krow said.
Citizens can do much to give themselves a better chance to elude the dreaded diagnosis. Among the early efforts are never smoking and distancing from cigarette smoke (self-protecting), consuming alcohol in moderation or not at all (self-disciplining), eating healthy (self-correcting), and committing to an active lifestyle (self-enhancing). These are only first steps, with the keys being sustained effort, as well as some combination of all the elements. There are no guarantees, but there is the satisfaction that the things, which are in one’s own grasp, are being pursued in a determined and enduring manner.
These can contribute not only to a longer life, but one that is of a better overall quality. The individual takes charge, while government is there as a good neighbour in times of need. Cancer care can be made affordable.
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