Fight against cancer

Medical professionals during the Nadi Cancer Conference at the Tanoa International Hotel. Picture: REPEKA NASIKO

THE fight against cancer has gone a notch up these past few years as relevant stakeholders want the Fijian public to be fully aware of its dangers and the fact that it has impacted young people’s lives.

The ministries of Health, Education and other non-government organisations have taken the lead fight against cancer and yet some people have taken for granted the many educational awareness programs that have been conducted vigorously around the country these past years.

During the recent MIOT International Cancer Conference, Education Minister Rosy Akbar reiterated the need to fight cancer by helping women and men get tested, understanding treatment options and providing support to cope with the physical and emotional side effects of the disease.

“Preventing cancer may sound difficult but to reduce the chances of contracting the disease we have to stay healthy through diet, exercise and more importantly through check ups,” Ms Akbar said.

“Much more needs to be done at an individual level as each of us needs to take full responsibility for our health.

“Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For every one person we help, there may be another we have not reached, but together we can.”

Ms Akbar said through public information campaigns and provision of services in hospitals and health centres, we have witnessed improved awareness about cancer.

She added education should not restrict itself to our children although they were an important part as they are our future

Cancer education and awareness, the former Health Minister reiterated, needed to spread to all parts of our society — men and women, those with and without disabilities, children to grandparents, in every part of the country — our places of worship, our schools, health centres and our homes.

“We need to work through education to remove the stigma associated with cancer.

“Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

“Therefore, these four groups of diseases account for over 80 per cent of all premature NCD deaths. In 2017, she noted that 281 females and one male were diagnosed with breast cancer. This is compared with 329 females and 9 males in 2016.

“I would like to put on record my sincere appreciation to all medical personnel in public hospitals and private facilities who continue in their dedicated efforts to save lives on a daily basis. I thank those who continue to save lives even in the most remote locations, in challenging times.

“The Education Ministry supports cancer awareness and advocacy campaigns.”

Cancer can happen to anyone and we all known someone who has been taken too early from our lives. We know of children, adults, young and old, who have suffered over sometimes long periods of pain and helplessness.

While vigorous Pinktober and Movember celebrations have been carried out year in year out, the most important question people should ask themselves is when was the last time they have been tested for breast or prostate cancer and have they ever been tested.

While some may choose to ignore it, it is important to take into consideration the fact that our health is our life; therefore basic tests should always be carried out to avoid confusion during the later stages of life.

The burden of cancer can be controlled when we work together and together we can win against cancer.

When analysing the statistics over the past decade, a total of 433 males have been identified with prostate cancer with the youngest victim in his 20s.

Ms Akbar encouraged men above 40 years of age to get tested as early as possible.

It is important to be wary of our lives and always regard it as the most important, therefore, as an individual, you should always take great care of it and always heed medical advice from health professionals.

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