Cancer war wages on

Women Coalition Against Cancer (Wocaca) has commended government and its stakeholders on efforts to fight cancer.

Wocaca executive director Maud Mwakasungula said this last Saturday when she opened a three-day girls’ camp.

The camp was organised by Chilomoni Foundation for Education and Development (Cfed) at the John Paul II Leadership and IT Institute at Chilomoni Township in Blantyre.

“In terms of cancer screening and awareness, we are getting there as a nation. There are shortfalls in any situation, but we are getting there. We have hospitals and mobile clinics where women can be screened for cervical cancer. We have partners doing cervical cancer awareness and screening in areas where there are no treatment centres,” she explained.

Mwakasungula, who was the guest of honour at the event, however, observed that more rural women are going for cancer screening than those in urban areas and that there is need to reach the latter with more awareness campaigns.

“When you go for awareness campaigns, you find that women in rural areas respond immediately. As such, when visiting rural areas, you should have provisional screening and treatment at the same time because once they are told, women want to do something about it,” said Mwakasungula.

She said she was motivated to speak at the camp because it was one way of giving the girls hope and introducing them to cancer issues so that they can start going for screening at a tender age.

“It is good that I am in a position to advise girls on things I wish someone had advised me on when I was young. When it comes to such issues, advising girls while they are still young is better than trying to address problems when they are grown up. Advice should come at a tender age,” she said.

Cfed president Albert Sharra said they are addressing the cancer problem through girls’ camps.

Held under the banner theme ‘Living for a Purpose; making every girl count’, the inaugural camp attracted over 50 girls, and was graced by five motivational speakers including Times Television’s Chisomo Mbwenye, Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust communications officer Rachel Mhango, Madalo Haji from Inter Aid and Teras Herbal managing director Shalice Amos.

The girls were addressed on various subjects such as rising up against poverty; cancer and female sexual reproductive health, peer education, gender and career guidance; education and climate change; and herbal and female reproductive health.

Girl Child health activist Ruth Kalinga-Chirwa trained the girls on how to make reusable sanitary pads.

One of the patrons, Maureen Chikhozo, from Lumbira Community Day Secondary School hailed the camp, saying it afforded her a chance to interact with role models, adding that she now has the formula to make it in life.

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