CAN on Pap Smear Drive

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The demand for pap smears and breast examinations is fast gaining momentum in the country as more and more women see the importance of preventing breast and cervical cancers. The number of people streaming into pap smear clinics has increased dramatically over the past two years. According to annual figures from the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN), the total number of women who visited the Windhoek office for pap smears rose from 1 158 in 2005 to 1 898 last year. Countrywide figures rose from 4 634 to 5 671, totalling a 1 037 growth increase during that period. This information was revealed yesterday when the Cancer Association of Namibia’s Chief Executive Officer Reinette Koegelenberg announced their annual programme for 2007. “The pap smear clinics are effective and a lot of people come into our offices to make appointments. And because of the huge demand, we are also conducting this service not only on Thursdays, but also on Wednesdays now,” explained Koegelenberg. “Cancer is increasing in the country and it’s mainly caused by wrong or unhealthy lifestyle habits. One third of all cancer can be treated and prevented if detected soon enough. So it is all about changing one’s habits and lifestyle to prevent cancer,” added Koegelenberg. Expressing the same sentiment, registered nurse Nelly Coetzee said that there is a growing need for pap smears in the country. In view of this, the official start of a road show this weekend through a mobile clinic called Muki 2 is a step in meeting this growing demand. Beginning Sunday, the fully equipped mini-bus or Muki 2 will be driven by the Cancer Association of Namibia’s staff to reach out to people in remote areas of the country for free breast examinations and pap smears. Muki 2, which is an abbreviation from the German words ?MÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼tter und Kind? which means Mother and Child, was officially launched by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, in November last year. With regard to the annual financial status up until end of February, the association has spent N$22 000 on pap smear clinics so far, while the acquisition and sales of medical stock amounts to N$334 000. A total of N$210 000 was used for assistance to cancer patients, while running costs for those patients at House Acacia amounts to N$130 000. Besides its annual pap smears and breast examinations, the Cancer Association of Namibia together with other stakeholders will also conduct other important activities this year. Amongst others, these include the Bank Windhoek Apple Project, which will be launched next month. The project aims at getting more school children involved in raising funds for cancer patients through selling apples. “We are educating children to be more socially responsible,” said Bank Windhoek’s Head of Corporate Communications and Social Investments, Helene Badenhorst. Last year, the bank managed to sell a total of 680 000 apples and handed over a cheque of N$700 000 to the Cancer Association of Namibia. As a new addition to the cancer programme, the Reach for Recovery project is geared towards accepting calls from women with breast cancer queries upon which visits are made to the various state and private hospitals. The ultimate aim to is raise funds for cancer patients through various fundraising activities planned this year. Among them is the Muffin Breakfast fundraiser event next month, the Volunteers Training Course and a Fashion Show for Breast Cancer Survivors to be held in September. Another notable cancer project that coincides with World Childhood Cancer Day on February 15 this year is the one of the “Children with Cancer in Namibia” (CHICA) organisation, which falls under the Cancer Association of Namibia. In August this year, children with cancer will be taken for an entertaining train ride to Heja Lodge. This is being done to make them realise that they are not alone in their fight against cancer.

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