Good morning. I am grateful for this invitation by the Fiji Cancer Society to launch its major fundraiser: The Bushells Biggest Morning, acknowledging the excellent work being undertaken by the Fiji Cancer Society.
The Fiji Cancer Society was formed in 1993 as an initiative of the Fiji Medical Association. Following from its annual conference, the theme was; "cancer in the developing countries" The Fiji Cancer Society was dedicated to the support of cancer patients. Advocacy, Counselling and Screening were method employed.
A grant of five hundred dollars ($500) was endowed by the President of FMA. Dr Mary Schramm was nominated the Interim Chairperson. The task was to formulate a constitution and register the society as a charitable trust.
Following the establishment of the Fiji Cancer Society, branches were formed in Lautoka, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki, Vatukoula and Nadi with the year 2010 witnessing the incorporation of these branches as the Western Cancer Society.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji is faced with a huge cancer burden. Improved National database and reporting strategies in record keeping demonstrate the increased incidence and overall prevalence in the number of all cases. From improved records, it is evident that the highest number of deaths is caused by cervical cancer followed closely by breast cancer in women.
Liver, gut, prostrate and testicular cancers are now becoming common in our men. Blood cancers remain a major issue with our children. Globally, 70 per cent of cancers are diagnosed late, we are no different in Fiji and the concept of an annual checkup or screening has not taken off yet.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incidence of cancer in Fiji is about 129 per 100,000. The Ministry of Health continues to address the growing burden of disease burden in the nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Obesity, Communicable, Non Communicable Diseases and Cancer are all interlinked. The wave of Obesity is party to increased cancer risks. Breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers are all estrogen dependent largely. There is an intimate relationship between cervical cancer and HPV virus, a communicable disease.
The following measures are being undertaken to address the cancer risks in our country as we have developed our infrastructural capacities in the hospitals, including ultra sound scanning, CT Scanning. Mammograms and MRI's.
nThe Non Communicable Diseases strategy, The Best Buys Approach applies fully to cancer prevention. (Breathe, Eat, Drink Exercise Right) Society must take on the task of addressing the social determinants of health. NGO, Civil Society Organizations, Faith Based organizations must step in to address ill health and the move to wellness.
nEnhanced Advocacy through collaborative partnerships needs to be fostered. Government and its lead agency, Health and their collaborative international development agencies have endorsed the implementation of the HPV VACCINE program. Vaccine availability is from September 2012 for young females to protect against Cancer Cervix This program is to be launched shortly and we are aiming for long term sustainability to monitor its impact in the next ten to fifteen years.
nDevelopment of a Basic Oncology Unit is being studied with international organizations including the International Atomic Energy Agency shortly. Once established we will be able to undertake radiotherapy, chemotherapy and combination therapy with surgery in Fiji. We are in the preliminary stages of addressing this venture and look forward to much support locally and abroad to realize this dream.
nEndorsed and supported by the Ministry of Health and in collaboration with the Cancer Society a Domiciliary Palliative Service has been piloted by Ministry of Health Oncology Nurses, Fiji Cancer Society Suva Branch, to undertake home care weekly for advanced cases.
Patients welfare is attended to, Care givers supported and medication adjusted to improve quality of life issues. The hope is that pain and side effects minimized as we can only provide compassion and empathy to this subgroup.
We are working with the Western branch of Fiji Cancer Society to roll this out to the west. The Northern branch is still to be inaugurated to start up similarly with the society's support.
nMinistry of Health take cognition of the Society's role in partnering with organizations like the WOWS to bring about a difference to the lives of the many children with suffering from cancer. With the partnership with WOWs we trust that the establishment of a children's resource center and a medical care fund established to financially support the suffering and underprivileged.
nAdvocacy by the Fiji Cancer Society includes all cancers and its impact on all Fijians.
The Society has been involved in many awareness programs provided free to the community and have also delivered to many corporate organizations through their awareness service , women's health checks in partnership with Ministry of Health.
nThe Western Branch last year raised over $50,000 specifically to purchase a complete colposcopy unit to better screen and diagnose cervical cancer at Lautoka Hospital. The Ministry of Health is greatly indebted for this timely support and looks forward to its installation shortly.
nThe Western Branch has physically and financially supported the ongoing efforts of the PATTAN clinic which is based in Nacovi, Nadi and offers free medical examination for the disadvantaged in the Nadi area.
nThis is further supported by visiting doctors and medical specialists, who undertake examinations, organize pap smears and monitor treatment through the Lautoka hospital.
nThe Fiji Cancer Society Suva and the Western Branch have received two vehicles from Aus-AID last year to support its Advocacy programs.
nThe Western Branch was donated caravan by Williams and Gosling Ltd in Lautoka recently. This has been converted into a caravan for screening in the rural areas.
nThe sponsors of the event , the Motibhai Group of Companies has joined hands with Fiji Cancer Society since 2006 to put the kettle on to help the society raise funds to increase and improve the level of awareness in the country. I congratulate the Motibhai Group for their support. With the launch of today's Bushells Fiji's Biggest Morning Tea, I hope and urge you all to join in making sure the kettle keeps going to help the society raise much needed funds.
nFiji Cancer Society is in the process of establishing an outreach program which will ensure that appropriate venues are located to provide screening is taken throughout the community.
I know that the society has in their plans this year to undertake greater initiatives including men's cancer awareness soon. I wish the society well in its endeavours.