First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo has pledged to mobilise resources to build a cancer treatment centre in Ghana.
This, she said, would be done with support from the Forum of African First Ladies Against Cancers.
Mrs Akufo-Addo made the pledge when she accepted a challenge by OAFLA to first ladies from African Countries to build a cancer treatment centre to, especially, take care of cancers among women and children.
Mrs Akufo-Addo’s acceptance of the challenge was given a further boost when a real estate agency established by some Ghanaians living in the United States of America (USA) and Canada, Lexington Properties, promised to give her a land to build the centre in Ghana.
The forum was held on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on the theme “Looking forward to a future without cancers: Implementation of access to medicines, diagnostics and treatment”.
The First Lady was commended by Roache International for her efforts at soliciting funds to build a baby and mother unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi.
Breast, cervical and endo-uterus cancers are said to be the leading causes of cancer deaths among women in developing countries including Ghana.
A worrying factor, however, is that although cancers are said to be the leading causes of death among many women, accurate data on the number of people who die from cancers continue to be a mirage due to the unavailability of dedicated treatment centres.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said “just the mention of the word cancer, invokes fear and misery because it was perceived as invariably leading to painful deaths”.
“In our part of the world cancers are often discovered late” and according to the First Lady, data indicated that over 16,600 cases of cancer occurred annually in Ghana.
She said data and research in Ghana, however focused on specific cancers making it difficult to know the real number of cases.
She mentioned that access to diagnostics, treatment and medicines were fraught with many challenges which included late presentation and diagnosis; lack of awareness on the disease; funding challenges; inadequate infrastructure to deal with the disease and inadequate qualified personnel.
To address these challenges and improve access on the disease, she said partnerships have been established targeting improved awareness, screening, early diagnosis and treatment by trained professionals.
“We are supporting community awareness creation and screening initiatives. We are educating against some traditional cultural beliefs and myths, encouraging behaviour changes and promoting healthy lifestyles” she said.
She thanked Roche, an international pharmaceutical organisation and some non-governmental organisations for their support in ensuring that issues on cancers as well as treatments were demystified in the country.
She said most cancers could be cured when detected early and therefore called on people to report early for treatment to avoid unforeseen circumstances.