Meena Breast Cancer Foundation (MBCF) has unveiled elaborate plans to build breast screening centres in schools and communities around the country to ramp up breast cancer awareness and provide medical assistance to financially disadvantaged individuals.
Potsin T.I. Ahmadiyya Senior High School (AMASS) in the Central Region’s Gomoa East District is the first to benefit from the project, which aims to reduce breast cancer mortality in Ghana and establish an all-year campaign scheme for early detection, treatment, and palliative care.
“We want to start construction work immediately; we intend to build these centres in senior high schools and communities where they will be most needed,” Alhaji Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng, Executive Director of the Crime Check Foundation, told the Ghana News Agency.
He said breast cancer awareness campaigns should take place all year round, rather than limited to only October, as is now the case, adding: “Breast cancer exists year-round and so sensitization shouldn’t be restricted to the month of October.”
“We want to bring these centres closer to people in public places like markets and schools. We hope this will reinforce breast cancer awareness and reach many people in rural areas,” he added.
He said, “We’ve already done the design work and acquired some plots of land, and a sod will be cut in two weeks’ time for the commencement of the project.”
The Executive Director, who is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Ghana’s Centre for Migration Studies, further said the MBCF would inaugurate its office complex this week to facilitate its operations.
Since the onset of the breast cancer campaign in several communities and schools, he said, there has been growing interest in breast cancer screening activities.
Thus, Alhaji Ibrahim appealed for support to help MBCF expand its breast cancer campaigns and charity operations to prevent the disease and assist poor individuals suffering from it.
Early this year, MBCF supported Madam Abiba Abu, who had been fighting breast cancer for over seven years and had difficulty getting medical treatment due to financial constraints.
Madam Abiba’s fragile situation worsened when she and her husband, who was also suffering from a stroke, earned their living from charcoal trade, which has now collapsed.
Breast cancer kills about 2,000 women in Ghana each year, according to health authorities, out of an estimated 4,000 new cases diagnosed at the country’s major health institutions.
Around 70 per cent of these patients have cancer that has advanced to the stage that nothing could be done to help them, leading to many of them dying.
Thus, the MBCF mounted an aggressive breast screening and education campaigns last October, starting with senior high schools and communities, including St. Mary’s Senior High School and Potsin T.I AMASS Senior High School.
During the campaigns, Potsin T.I AMASS Senior High School, where Alhaji Ibrahim’s wife, Amina Kwarteng, who died of breast cancer in Turkey last year, attended, appealed for support after some students were diagnosed with breast cancer.
In response, the school was chosen by the foundation as the opening educational institutions to benefit from the first five breast screening centres to be constructed in 2023.
Mrs. Zeinab Adams, Headmistress of Potsin T.I AMASS Senior High School, highlighted the importance of the screening centre, saying it would bring “a great sigh of relief” to the school and community members, and “ease the burden on the Polyclinic.”
It would also close the gap of not having a sick bay and provide significant health services to both students and staff members, she added, and expressed gratitude to MBCF for responding to their call.
She said it was the first time female members of the school benefitted from such a breast screening exercise, emphasising: “The appreciation from both students and staff was unimaginable.”
Mrs Adams also said the school was prepared to host the breast screening centre, adding: “As I’m speaking, we even have three professional nurses who have been posted to the school from the Ghana Health Service.”
“The school enrolment is much higher than the town population,” she explained. “We are far over 2000, so establishing such a facility [breast screening centre] here will be a great relief.”