The Afghan Women’s Support Forum (AWSF) is launching a campaign to address the poor provision of diagnostic and treatment facilities for breast cancer sufferers in Afghanistan. We know that there is a problem, but it is further compounded by lack of data necessary to inform a structured analysis and funding proposal. To this end we are asking organisations and individuals to help us. Please get in touch if you can provide:
- Relevant research material and/or statistical data
- Personal testimony (as a sufferer)
- Personal testimony ( as a clinician or carer)
If you are willing to be included in any publicity material we produce about this issue we will need your name and contact details. Anonymous, anecdotal information is of interest to AWSF members, but unfortunately does not have the same weight externally.
Our understanding is that while there has been activity and support in principle (See report HERE) this has not translated into allocation of funding, training of specialist clinicians or identification of facilities.Those most vulnerable to this cruel disease are women and at present only those able to travel out of Afghanistan for treatment are benefiting from the comprehensive care that is available.
Breast Cancer and its future in Afghanistan
ASWF member Dr Dr Zarghuna Taraki, Breast Physician at University College London Hospital, writes, “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It is estimated that more than 1.7million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2012 (second most common cancer overall). This represents about 12% of all new cancer cases and 25% of all cancers in women.
Breast cancer has been the most common cancer in the UK since 1997, despite the fact that it is rare in men. It is by far the most common cancer among women in the UK (2011), accounting for 30% of all new cases of cancer in females.In 2011, 349 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. Among men, breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of cancer cases.Unfortunately there are no precise statistics for breast cancer in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of public health officials stressed that the ‘women who cannot afford to go abroad for treatment lose their lives because of the lack of necessary diagnostic and treatment facilities in Afghanistan.’
For the first time the 19th October 2014 was declared the day for the fight against breast cancer in Afghanistan.The first Lady Rula Ghani, who was presented at the event, expressed concerns over increasing cases of breast cancer in Afghanistan.She said, ‘breast cancer needs precise precautionary care and by increasing awareness and early detection will help fight against this disease.As a doctor, working in one of the leading breast cancer departments in the UK, I would say that raising awareness of breast cancer, and hence increasing early detection for the illness is of vital importance for the health of Afghan women. However I am aware that even with an increase in awareness we must strive to improve the facilities for treating breast cancer, or in most provinces the lack thereof, if we are begin to combat the increasing cases of breast cancer in Afghanistan.
*NB: AWSF is a think tank and lobbying group; it is not a funding body.