I was very happy to see this, and encourage all Maghribi women to be checked.
Morocco actively fighting cancer
A large-scale awareness campaign in Morocco this month targets the early detection of breast cancer. As part of the national effort, the nation's first breast and cervical cancer screening centre was inaugurated in Rabat.
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 14/05/08
[Sarah Touahri] Television campaigns in Morocco attempt to raise awareness that the early detection of breast cancer through screenings can result in a full recovery in 90% of cases.
The battle against cancer in Morocco has escalated in recent years. The number of those affected by the disease is still unclear, but specialists take on an estimated 30,000 new cases each year, 12,000 of which are treated in oncology centres.
Awareness-raising campaigns are increasingly widespread. The latest large-scale campaign on the importance of breast cancer screening is running throughout the month of May. This national campaign was launched by the Lalla Salma Cancer Research Association (ALSC) with a budget of 3.5 million dirhams. According to the programme organisers, some 7,000 breast cancer cases are reported each year – an average of twenty per day.
ALSC Executive Director Rachid Bekkaly told Magharebia that cancer remains little-known and screenings are approached with fear because the illness is associated with death. He stressed that cancer, if caught in its early stages, can be cured in 90% of cases, and that products for its treatment are available and provided free of charge for those on low incomes and those not already on treatment programmes.
“We want to encourage women to go for early diagnosis before the disease reaches its more serious stages,” he said.
The current campaign is distributing information about the disease, to spur people into action on the early detection of breast cancer. In addition to posters and televised announcements, entertainers have become involved in the campaign, with a promotional song broadcast by TV channels and radio stations.
The chairman of the ALSC’s scientific committee, Moulay Tahar Alaoui, said the health ministry is working, in collaboration with the association, to develop oncology centres in several of Morocco’s regions, with new clinics opening up in Fes, Marrakech, Oujda, Agadir and very soon in Al Hoceima, to add to those in Rabat and Casablanca.
In addition, a drug-purchasing fund for the needy will be introduced to improve the accessibility of treatment.
Also as part of the national effort, the nation’s first breast and cervical cancer screening centre was inaugurated May 6th at the Souissi Maternity Hospital in Rabat. This flagship centre, set up by the ALSC, the health ministry and Rabat University Hospital (CHU), with support from the Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaers regional council, can see up to 30,000 people per year. Patients are referred by the various health centres across the region for more specialised mammography, biopsy and colposcopy examinations, as well as for specialist gynaecological consultations.
The centre will make it possible to see patients flagged during screening, perform a diagnosis and then refer them on to specialists for treatment as needed.
Breast and cervical cancer were emphasised because, according to the ALSC, these two varieties affect 50% of cancer sufferers in Morocco.
This content was commissioned for Magharebia.com.