Breast Cancer is one of the most serious diseases posing a big threat to the health of not only women but also men in Sierra Leone. With low research and treatment facilities, the disease is capable of spreading fast and affect men, women and girls.
As a company with a sound health pillar under its corporate social responsibility, Orange Sierra Leone is calling on Sierra Leoneans to join the ant-Breast Cancer campaign to stem the tide. Yesterday was World Cancer Day, a moment to invite global attention to the disease under the theme: ‘Close the Care Gap.’
Considering its commitment to health, Orange Sierra Leone joined the global movement to end Breast Cancer in the world. Being part of the global celebration, Orange Sierra Leone held a World Cancer Day celebration the previous Friday at its headquarters in Freetown. Director for Orange Foundation, Jestina Betts called on Sierra Leoneans to fight together and end the scourge.
“This is a fight for all of us. Together, we have touched the lives of many Sierra Leoneans over the years from Freetown to the villages. Every single person can make a difference, but together we can a real progress. ” Betts assured.
She said Sierra Leoneans had to take up the responsibility to eliminate Breast Cancer adding that closing the care gap is not only company grants but also about everyone taking the decision to stop cancer in their own little way. Breast cancer, according to the Orange Foundation Director, is not only prevalent among women and girls but also among men.
“Breast Cancer is not only affecting women, but there is a steady increase in cancer among men,” she noted.
Betts also touched on the support Orange Sierra Leone has been providing for Thinking Pink Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that takes the lead in the prevention and treatment of Breast Cancer. She informed the audience that Orange Sierra supported Thinking Pink Foundation during ‘Breast Cancer marathon,’ ‘Think Gala’ and sensitisation in various public schools nationwide.
The awareness raising campaign was also taken to market places, offices as well as College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences. “Over 3, 000 students were screened in 2021, and hundreds of abnormalities were found during the test,” she revealed.
Betts believes that Breast Cancer can be defeated through sensitisation, screening and treatment. Orange and Thinking Pink Foundations, she said, were ready to demonstrate its effort to end Breast Cancer in Sierra Leone.
She assured that the partnership Between orange and Thinking Pink Foundation would continue in Sierra Leoneans’ interest. We will do more, and we will lead a good fight,” she assured.
Speaking at the ceremony, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Thinking Pink Foundation , Cremelda Parkinson Pratt said Breast Cancer was spreading at an alarming rate in Sierra Leone. The question of what Sierra Leone can do to stop the disease’s spread was the main point in Pratt’s address.
“Stopping Breast Cancer is about prevention and education. It is a disease that needs attention at its onset,” she admonished.
Sierra Leone, she went on, remained a low-income country adding that prevention is the way to go. She went on to state that the Union for International Control aimed at ensuring that every man, woman and girl gets equitable access to care. “For us, it is a call for action through our government and international partners so that we can do it together,” she noted.
Thinking Pink Director also spoke about how real Breast Cancer was, and the lives the disease has claimed. Before this time, she said, medics had told the world that Breast Cancer was for the old, but that notion had shifted a bit. “A person of nine years could contact cancer,” she pointed out.
The situation makes a strong case why government, NGOs and Sierra Leones should re-double effort to roll back the disease.
Pratt however observes that Sierra Leone is a country where one’s chances of surviving the disease remains challenging. The challenge comes about through neglect of one’s health and refusal to visit health facilities for examination and treatment.
“If a woman is screened regularly and Cancer detected at the early stages, chances of surviving is better,” she informed the audience.
This calls for awareness raising, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and data collection which, she said, would go a long way to aid medical research. Pratt added that it was high time government started to conduct a research on Cancer in Sierra Leone owing to lack of proper health services.
“Sierra Leone has only one radiotherapy service. Why can’t you put attention on research,” she urged government.
She also did not lose sight of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability as factors that worsen Breast Cancer situation in Sierra Leone. In spite of the prevailing circumstances in the health sector, Orange Sierra Leone is still committed to reversing the trend.
The company, on several moments, has shown its relevance to the health sector by spending millions of Leones in sensitisation and providing help to less-privileged patients.
It has made several donations to lactating mothers and other vulnerable groups at Connaught and Cottage hospitals as well as other health centres in the country. Cottage hospital also known as Princess Christian Maternity Hospital has got a fair share of Orange Sierra Leone’s donations.
The telecoms company is currently running one of the productive health projects in one of the most deprived slums in Freetown. The Project is about women’s health.