First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo
First Lady Rebecca
Akufo-Addo has initiated an advocacy project through her foundation, seeking to
improve access to the early detection and treatment of cervical and breast
With funding from Roche, an
international pharmaceutical company, the foundation wants to increase
awareness and care of breast and cervical cancers to help reduce mortality.
Through her Rebecca
Foundation, the First Lady engaged health experts to deliberate on modalities
that would scale up advocacy and education in reducing breast and cervical
cancers in 10 regional hospitals.
The stakeholders who
attended the workshop included representatives of civil society organisations,
Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Health, as
well as some oncologists and epidemiologists.
Sheila Sekyi-Oppong, a strategist
at The Rebecca Foundation, who briefed the Ghana
News Agency (GNA) on the
sidelines of the workshop, said the stakeholders were analysing the provision
of breast and cervical cancer services and help identify services gaps.
They would look at
infrastructure provisions and develop high impact short to medium plans to
resolve existing gaps that militate against cancer care.
Mrs. Sekyi-Oppong explained
that the project would be implemented within the National Strategy for Cancer
Control in Ghana (2012 – 2016), and the stakeholders are expected to examine
global trends and good practices that could be adapted meaningfully to Ghana.
“Moreover, the workshop also
seeks to find out what viable cost-effective and efficient steps beyond the initial
advocacy plan could be. The possibilities to be discussed may focus on the
contents of the National Strategy for Cancer Control or experiences picked up
by our experts on the field that would further strengthen advocacy,” the
She said among critical
issues identified are advocacy to demystify cancers and early detections that
could save lives and improve treatments.
Training and capacity
building of frontline health workers, especially at the district health centres
and CHPs compound, as well as midwives and community and public health nurses
would also be undertaken so that they would be able to screen women who attend
antenatal and post-natal services.
She said doctors would also
be encouraged to screen women who attend the hospital for any other complaints,
“so we can catch such cancers early and stem the rising tide of these diseases.”
Mrs. Sekyi-Oppong stated
that a working group had been established out of the workshop and they are
expected to come out with a working plan within a couple of weeks and then “as
much as possible these things would be implemented in a few districts as a
pilot to show the gains and later be translated into the broader national
Earlier during the
discussion, some of the stakeholders decried the fact that only a few women
availed themselves to regular screening for cancer diseases and the fact that
there is currently no national register on cancers in the country.
They recommended the need to
introduce vaccinations for cervical cancer among young girls to ensure
prevention as well as promote healthy lifestyles.