Sometimes it’s easier to give up the struggle against breast cancer in Africa than to carry on. For years many health organisations have been trying to raise awareness on early detection of the signs and symptoms to reduce late presentation, but somehow it just fizzles out, I wonder why.
We have been visiting rural communities in Africa for years educating the women on signs and symptoms of breast cancer. We engage the local nurses and doctors to help maintain sustainability. To what end?
Rural Africa has a huge challenge, which we know and talk about year after year. Lack of funds for treatment, lack of facilities and inadequate training. We know about all these! But my heart bleeds when I look deep down at the core problem.
Are we saying there are really not enough funds in Africa to have a Cancer Care unit in every country? Are we saying that all the donated funds from Donors can’t make a difference? What is really going on?
I really work hard not to get myself involved in politics or governmental issues, I really try, but sometimes it just bites me in the butt and I feel depressed about it all. You try so hard to do these selfless work and some people feel you are doing it to enrich yourself. Many feel that there must be something in it for you. The worse part is that, most of these thoughts are from fellow Africans. This brings me to the biggest issue we have in fighting Breast Cancer in Africa ‘Patriotism’.
Some say its corruption, but I feel it’s the lack of patriotic leadership. When you have love for your country, you will always put your country first and ensure it continues to get better. It is patriotism that makes you plan ahead and follow that plan, it is patriotism that makes you use 100% of the funds allocated to a project on that project. It is patriotism that makes you care about the lives of those you are suppose to govern.
The facts are that the women in rural Africa,
· Cannot afford breast cancer treatment.
· Cannot afford to travel to the big cities for screening.
· Cannot afford to pay for accommodation or feeding while in the big cities.
Even the so-called big cities, I wonder how many have updated facilities. Although some are getting better, the cost is just beyond the reach of almost 98% of the local women. Ouch! Is there any hope for rural African women?
I feel there is, I really do, otherwise we won’t be doing what we are doing. I feel it is a collective effort. Everyone one of us, especially the Africans in Diaspora, really need to take the lead. We are the people who really should use our relationships in the west to encourage help for our people.
Imagine if 20% of diasporas make a continuous effort to support one cause or be a part of one NGO and really drive the vision for five years, am very sure that there will be progress in that small community.
Is there really hope for rural Africa? Well there is, but it’s going to be a long and hard task. We that are trying to take the lead must cushion both the positive and negative comments, and keep driving on, encouraging the governments and donors not to give up.
As I always say “The hardest thing to do in Africa is to do the right thing”.
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