The First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has advised Ghanaians, particularly women to adopt healthy lifestyles to halt the increasing incidences and risks of cancer infections in the country.
According to her, whilst advances in economic development and modernization has improved the quality of life for many, the downside of this has enabled increasing adoption of unhealthy lifestyles, resulting in about 10% of the global population now considered obese and at least one billion people worldwide using tobacco and putting them at risk to diseases like cancer.
She made this known at an event to commemorate World Cancer Day 2019 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, which is the first city in Africa and fourth city in the world to pilot the flagship Union for International Cancer Control City Cancer Challenge project.
The event was attended by the President of the Union for International Cancer Control, Princess Dina Mired of Jordan.
Citing a report from the American Cancer Society, she disclosed that with 57 percent of the estimated 14 million new cancer cases in 2012 occurring in low- and middle-income countries, the burden of the disease is expected to continue shifting to the developing world, as our population grows and ages.
She worried that whilst reports from cancer registries and the cancer treatment facilities in Ghana show increasing cases of cancer, over 50 percent of these patients are women, largely due to breast and cervical cancers and that even more worrying is that these affected women are usually in the productive age of between 35- 50 years, working to take care of their families.
“The obvious socio-economic impact of cancers on the individual, families and society are huge. Cancer impacts negatively on the livelihood of people of low socio-economic status because it leads to more poverty.” The First Lady stressed.
She continued that, “the social impact of cancer is far reaching and often not quantifiable. It involves a huge amount of suffering and pain, both physical and psychological, for the patient and his family. Often, the patient has limitation in performing everyday tasks like bathing, dressing or eating; deteriorating his or her quality of life further.”
Mrs. Akufo-Addo, who is also the Head of the Rebecca Foundation indicated that whilst cancer care globally has improved significantly in advanced countries due to research and implementation of evidence-based strategies in Advocacy, Prevention, Early detection and Diagnosis among others, “same cannot be said for countries like Ghana where so many other diseases, including HIV, malaria, and other infections, presented such need that, not many people anticipated the burden of cancer in Ghana. Which means the infrastructure needed to treat cancer has not caught up with the disease.”
She called for more “structured and well-coordinated strategies, to control the increasing incidence of cancers and improve the management of cancers.
“I believe one of the critical things to look at is prevention. This calls for increased awareness on the preventable causes of cancer. We need to encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles, including exercising, eating healthy foods and quitting smoking and excessive drinking.” She recommended.