Afghan Cancer Control Advocacy Meeting – 5th April, 2016
BACKGROUND & UPDATE
In June 2015 UK Progressive ran a feature about the lack of breast cancer care and awareness in Afghanistan (Read HERE): It recorded the interest expressed by H.E. The First Lady, Mrs Rula Ghani, in addressing the situation. It also described the embryonic first steps towards formation of an organisation that would facilitate prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care for those currently denied information or access to medical help. The subject was brought to life through the experiences of two Afghan women – an Afghan MP (Shinkai Karokhail) who had suffered from the disease and London-based doctor (Dr Zarghuna Taraki). It was further publicised through The Afghan Women’s Support Forum (AWSF).
Not much has been reported since then but, behind the scenes, considerable progress has been made towards creating an Afghanistan Cancer Foundation (ACF). Badged with its own distinctive logo (soon to be revealed), the ACF will bring together government officials, influencers, well-known social figures and medical professionals. The Foundation’s make-up will ensure that it has authority, profile, credibility and input from appropriate medical practitioners.
Any funding it receives will be managed to optimise accountability and transparency.
The latest in a series of many meetings to consider how the dream could become a reality took place in Kabul on Tuesday, April 5th. It was opened by H.E. Dr. Ahmad Jan Naeem, Deputy Public Health Minister for Policy and Planning and chair National Cancer Control Committee, who thanked Members of Parliament, representatives from civil society, members of the National Cancer Control Committee and MoPH staff for their participation.
It was decided that, following meetings with a number of donors and implementing agencies, there was need to create a National Cancer Control Program (NCCP) which would outlineDevelopment of this will be taken forward in consultation with the NCD.
As much of what the Afghanistan Cancer Foundation aspires to do is dependant on future funding/grants, the support and goodwill of empathetic organisations will be vital, but Stage One is now likely to be development of a Cancer Treatment Unit in Jumhuriat Hospital.
In neighbouring Pakistan, Lahore’s Shaukat Khanum Hospital has offered help through co-operation and the sharing of expertise on cancer control and prevention.
A spokeswoman from the London-based Afghan Women’s Support Forum (AWSF) said, “Our members have watched this process develop with interest over the 10 months since Dr Zarghuna Taraki and Shinkai Karokhail MP shared their stories. We are passionately supportive of this initiative, which seeks to address a disease that kills indiscriminately – regardless of status, political alignment, religion or gender.
“We applaud the many stakeholders who have worked so tirelessly and determinedly to create the Afghanistan Cancer Foundation and look forward to the day when it is registered, operational and beginning to make a real difference to the lives of Afghanistan’s sufferers.”