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MoPH, WHO launch joint campaign against breast cancer

“One of every eight women in Afghanistan suffers from breast cancer. Sixteen percent of breast cancer cases emerge in women aged between15-49 years,” says health minister

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the breast cancer advocacy campaign here in Kabul on Wednesday.

Speaking at a ceremony in this regard, Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz said that despite of one decade of efforts to provide healthcare services, still Afghan women are seriously suffering from breast cancer. He said that one of the main factors of maternal mortality is breast cancer in the country. One of every eight women in Afghanistan suffers from breast cancer.

The minister said that though breast cancer is not a fatal disease but unfortunately women who suffer from this disease pass away due to lack of information.

Giving the recent maternal mortality survey as reference, he said that 16 percent of breast cancer cases emerge in women aged between 15-49 years. Twenty-one percent of mortality rate is due to fatness, drinking alcohol, little or no physical activities, poor healthcare services and congenital sickness.

Speaking about recent efforts of the ministry regarding provision of the healthcare services, Feroz reiterated that the ministry of public health has taken several measures for controlling and decreasing of breast cancer cases in the country.

He said the ministry has planned to conduct public awareness campaigns about breast cancer, boosting the capacity of health workers, establishment of treatment centers and attracting cooperation of international partners in this aspect.

WHO Representative in Afghanistan, Dr Richard Peeperkorn, said on the occasion that according to estimates, each year around 20,000 Afghans are diagnosed with cancer of which almost 7,000 (one -third ) are diagnosed with breast cancer.

He said this is only estimates and the real figure about breast cancer is likely to be much higher and early detections of breast cancer remains crucial.

According to him, cancer is ranking among the top four leading cause of death in WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, of which Afghanistan is a part.

He warned that the cases expected to be almost double in the next decades in the region.

“WHO remains committed to support the government of Afghanistan in fight against breast cancer. We pledge our support for the development of a comprehensive cancer control program with strong prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment and rehabilitation,” he mentioned.

He pointed out that in the near future WHO will facilitate the trips for Afghan doctors to learn from experiences of Pakistani doctors in the diagnosis center.

So far there is no standard diagnosis center in Afghanistan. Therefore, many patients go to Pakistan or India for treatment.

Fatema Bakhtiar, who was suffering from breast cancer two years ago, said that when she felt pain in her breast she was referred to different hospitals but none of them could diagnose her. Finally, she left for Pakistan.

She said that she was treated successful and now is healthy. She asked the ministry of public health to establish cancer treatment centers inside the country.

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