Former first lady active in fight against cancer

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Eenhana

A number of people turned up at Eenhana on Saturday to participate in the breast and cervical cancer awareness walk.

The event, held under a theme ‘Unwrap Hope’, was the initiative of Ongwediva Medipark and is held on an annual basis. It started off on Friday with screenings and examinations for cervical and breast cancer.

Former first lady Penexupifo Pohamba, who officiated at the event, said everyone should know that cancer is a reality that affects many people and that it is a curable disease that can be successfully treated if detected early enough.

“Yes, cancer is preventable and curable. It is very important for every woman and man to know the facts about breast and cervical cancer,” Pohamba said.

She said it is estimated that 132 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Namibia. Out of the 132 cancer victims, 59 lose their lives – a situation, which the retired nurse and former first lady said could be prevented, as cancer is preventable and curable if detected early.

The population group most at risk of breast cancer falls between the ages of 15 years and 44, she said.
“Today, I wish to emphasise the need for early examination and screening. Where a person is diagnosed with cancer it is advisable to start with treatment immediately. The good news is that cervical cancer can be detected, prevented and even successfully treated if diagnosed early. There are many women in Namibia who survived cancer. Some of them are here today. Let us learn from them,” she said.

She further said there is also a vaccine against the causes of cervical cancer and it is available in Namibia. Girls between the age of nine and 15 can get vaccinated.

Pohamba pointed out factors, such as multiple child-births, prolonged use of birth control pills, HIV/AIDS and smoking, as some of the causes of cancer.

She urged smokers to avoid smoking in public, as this practice not only endangers smokers, but also others. She said this is one of the reasons why the practice of smoking in public buildings has been outlawed by government.
Furthermore, the former first lady encouraged people to be more physically active, because exercise has proven to reduce the risk of contracting breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is the only cancer that has been proven to be reduced through regular exercise. The walk we did this morning is a step towards healthy living and reducing the risk of cancer,” she said.

According to a well-known gynecologist and former special advisor to the minister of health, Dr Naftali Hamata, excessive consumption (or under-consumption) of certain types of food, the use of tobacco, viruses – either on the liver or cervix -, genetic and environmental factors, including sunrays and pollution, as well as alcohol abuse are among the major causes of cancer.

He urged people to eat more wholegrain food, legumes, fruits, chicken, fish and vegetables, among others, while avoiding red meat, spices, refined food, whole milk, shellfish, coffee and white sugar.

Among the speakers on the day was the director general of the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Stanley Similo, whose speech was delivered by NBC journalist Panduleni Nepembe. The newly appointed DG urged medical experts to avail relevant material on health-related issues for the NBC to package and run as programmes on its various platforms.

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