It is no wonder that Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr is putting special focus on fighting breast cancer. Her mother, she revealed, passed away after suffering the disease. Nasr dubbed the month ‘Pink October’, launching an initiative for the cause.
Nasr signed a cooperation protocol with President of the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt Mohamed Shaalan, aiming to shed light on the need for early detection, and awareness of breast cancer and ways to prevent it. Early detection brings the chances of recovery up to 98%.
“This initiative is an investment in the Egyptian citizen. The best investment is to invest in human beings,” said the minister in an official statement.
Setting a model to follow, Nasr is starting with her own employees. She decided to organize an educational seminar for all women working at the ministry to raise awareness of breast cancer and ways to prevent it, and to conduct medical examinations at the ministry's headquarters for 300 women over the age of forty, and provide mammograms for workers who need it.
The Minister stressed that comprehensive development can not be achieved in the Egyptian society without the positive participation of women, where the concern to provide integrated health care is an important part.
“Many women bear the responsibility of supporting their families, which led us to the need to work on a strategy for the empowerment of women politically, economically and socially,” Nasr said.
The minister said that she and a large number of Egyptian families suffered from the loss of loved ones due to breast cancer. Risk factors for developing breast cancer include being female, obesity, lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, ionizing radiation, early age at first menstruation, having children late or not at all, older age, and family history.
A few recommendations would be to start monthly breast self-examination at the age of 20, and begin clinic examinations every three years, at least. At the age of 40, annual visits to the gynecologist, as well as an annual mammogram, are recommended.
Although still a small number of services exist in the country, more and more are coming into existence to combat the heinous disease.
The Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt is exerting efforts to build a culturally sensitive physical and emotional support system to enhance the quality of life for women with breast cancer and their families. It also collects a body of statistics to support research and promote enlightened care, facilitates access to affordable and high quality professional diagnostic treatment, and rehabilitative services for women in all economic strata, as well as educates the public about breast cancer, the importance of early detection, and eradicate the stigma attached to having breast cancer.
There are several other organizations you can head to for support. On top of the list comes Baheya, the first free of charge specialized hospital in the region. The breast cancer-dedicated hospital does not only provide women with screening and treatment, but also with the emotional and psychological support necessary to fight breast cancer. It arranges home health assistance for out-patients and provides social assistance programs to families and caregivers.
Another one is the Egyptian Society of Women's Health, not specifically dedicated to breast cancer but nevertheless exerting efforts in the field. Pioneering themselves as the nation’s most passionate champion of women’s health issues, they connect, educate, and enable women to live fuller and active lives. Through numerous programs, the organization works on early detection, support, training, awareness, and research.
The International Network for Cancer Research and Treatment Egypt was established under the umbrella of the Egyptian Foundation for Cancer Research. Founded by Yehia Abugabal, who Forbes named one of the world’s 30 under 30, the not-for-profit organization assists in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment. Educational and training programs for cancer specialists, nurses and other health professionals are also priorities and emphasis is given to regionally important cancers. INCTR Egypt also promotes collaborative efforts among institutions and organizations within Egypt and in the region.