Fighting an unknown enemy

Leungo Mokgwathi

MOH fails to account for Botswana’s breast cancer burden.

While the Ministry of Health together with partners National Aids and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA), Journey of Hope and Bona Naledi celebrated yet another endorsement to commemorate World Breast Cancer Month in October, this year’s launch revealed that MOH may not be as equipped as it should be to fight breast cancer, at least statistically speaking.

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MOH representatives revealed on Wednesday that Botswana’s fight against breast cancer is reliant on global statistics as system malfunctions have denied them access to the country’s breast cancer statistics.

As a result, the ministry could not update the public and the media on Botswana’s breast cancer burden as well as progress made in the fight against breast cancer.

In fact the latest breast cancer statistics date back to 2016.

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Additionally, they failed to explain what measure was used to determine breast cancer as the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Botswana after cervical cancer.

When reached for comment, MOH Public Relations Officer Christopher Nyanga explained that he could not give such statistics off the top of his head, explaining that the information should be with desk officers who are tasked with breast cancer.

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With no figures to support his expressions, he stated that, “Dozens of women and young women continue to be diagnosed with either cervical cancer or breast cancer or even both, every year”.

A statement from MOH apparently responding to an enquiry made by this publication read, “People should always go for health screening as advised by health care workers to ensure early detection of these cancers or any disease for that matter. This can go a long way in saving the lives of many of our people.’’

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Despite this lack of research, the Ministry of Health will continue to commemorate breast cancer awareness and celebrate survivors this coming month of October.

This year, the activities will be hosted by the Kgatleng District Health Management Team in partnership with NAHPA, Journey of Hope, Bona Naledi and MOH.

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Outlining this year’s objectives,Kgatleng DHMT Chief Nursing Officer Boineelo Moalusi revealed that the commemoration seeks to, “Raise public awareness, empower communities to take the lead against breast cancer and to recognize breast cancer survivors and caregivers.”

This year’s theme is “itse mabele a gago” which translates know your breasts, with the slogan “tshwara, leba, tlhatlhoba”- touch, look, check.

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