Breaking The Silence
Kampala October 3rd, 2009, Uganda Women’s Cancer Support Organisation (UWOCASO) joined the rest of the world to mark October international breast cancer awareness month. During October it is a time to increase awareness about breast cancer for all and especially the importance of Breast Self Examination (BSE), screening, early detection and treatment.
More than 600people participated at the 2nd breast cancer awareness charity walk organized by UWOCASO. The event marked the month’s activities of increasing awareness about breast cancer. The walk started from Mulago National referral hospital through Kampala streets and ended at Sheraton Hotel gardens with speeches. Participants included senior doctors, nurses and group employees from Mulago national referral hospital and other hospitals around Kampala, commissioners from Ministry of Health, University students, schools children, corporate organizations, like minded organizations like Hospice Africa, African Palliative Care Association, survivors and members of the public.
\r\nIn his speech, the chief walker (The Vice President of the Republic of Uganda Hon. Prof. Gilbert Bukenya) who was represented by Hon. Dr. James Baba (MP), Minister of state office of the Vice President noted that the burden of cancers is already felt by government and has affected the overall development of the country. He urged scientists, researchers and academicians who participated at the walk as a matter of urgency to revitalize cancer research so as to establish accurate figures to help government plan for a cancer control program. He applauded UWOCASO for taking the lead to raise awareness about breast and cervical cancers which are the major cause of cancer death in Ugandan women. He pledged on behalf the government of Uganda to support UWOCASO’s activities through its Ministry of Health and government agencies by partnership and collaborative efforts.\r\n\r\nMr. A. M Gakwaya Senior Consultant surgeon at Mulago national referral hospital and advisor to UWOCASO informed participants that the incidence of breast and other cancers was increasing. “According to Mulago medical records, the incidence of breast cancer has increased by 63% in the last 15years and the 5year survivor rate is still worrying at 56%”, he said. He reported that many rural and upcountry cases are not reported since majority of patients die before reaching Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) at Mulago for diagnosis. UCI is the only cancer centre serving 30million people. Dr. Gakwaya cried out to government to support UWOCASO’s initiative to increase awareness about the disease.\r\n
Gertrude Nakigudde the Public Relations and Advocacy officer for UWOCASO in her welcoming remarks informed walkers that it was high time to talk about breast and other cancers because they have silently claimed a big number of Ugandans. She lamented that breast cancer carries a lot of stigma and therefore people suffer silently. ” During this month and beyond, as survivors we are opening up to the public that we have faced the fatal disease and survived it” She said. “We are out to partner with like minded organisations to increase awareness and end stigmain about the disease” She formed participants that breast cancer has no boundaries therefore a consolidated effort was urgently required.
\r\nUWOCASO celebrated the month with the theme “Breaking the silence about breast cancer” activities focused on bringing breast cancer in the spotlight both to the public and government. Various activities were organized throughout the month which included Radio and television talk shows and call in programs. Articles and survivors’ testimonies run in all the newspapers and magazines throughout the period. At Sheraton gardens where all walkers gathered breast health, cancer education sessions and clinical breast examination were conducted by survivors and a medical team. Educational materials like fliers, brochures, T-shirts and caps were also distributed to all participants.\r\n
We thank our sponsors, partners and collaborators who made it possible for UWOCASO to increase awareness and support the world cancer declaration.