Prayer camps and spirituality are not the primary source for providing solution to the increasing number of breast cancer cases in Ghana.
The effective solution, as has been proved and evident in the statistics, is early reporting of cases at health facilities.
While not playing down on the effect of prayer and faith, the president of BreastCare International (BCI), Dr (Mrs) Beatrice Wiafe-Addai, said the situation where people were seeking spiritual solution instead of medical care had caused a high number of deaths from breast cancer.
Speaking at an event to launch this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness month at Tepa in the Ahafo Ano North District, Dr Wiafe-Addai, who is also the CEO of Peace and Love Hospital, said currently, 4, 600 Ghanaians were diagnosed of breast cancer each year, out of which 2,000 were killed by the disease.
She said it was unfortunate that people still believed that the main solution to their problem was taking herbal concoctions and seeking help from prayer camps.
"The increase in cases and mortality are due to the fact that people still believe that taking in herbal concoctions and visiting prayer camps will bring healing to them.
"Breast cancer is not as a result of a curse or witchcraft. There's solution for it once patients seek early help at a health facility," Dr Wiafe-Addai, Ghana's first female general surgeon to combat breast cancer, said.
Breast cancer Ghana walk
The event also marked the 10th annual national Breast Cancer Ghana Walk for the cure and it was on the theme: "Breast cancer won't rest, so why should we?"
It was the first time the exercise, meant to educate people on the disease, was being held outside a regional capital.
People from all walks of life and in the health sector participated in the event, including the Moroccan Ambassador to Ghana, Iamane Quaadil.
Also, a number of music icons such as Obaapa Christy, Akosua Agyepong, Patience Nyarko and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kofi Sarpong, were present to lend support.
After the walk, the musicians thrilled the fans at the durbar with their scintillating renditions while Akosua Agyepong relived her dancing days on stage which was greeted with loud cheers.
Dr Wiafe-Addai explained that Tepa was chosen because of the special role the chief of the traditional area, Nana Adusei Atwenewaa Ampem I, had played in the fight against the disease and also to honour him on his 60th birthday.
Also as part of the event, there was free screening for females who were at the durbar.
Impact of breast cancer
The president of BreastCare International said more people in the western world were diagnosed of breast cancer, but the number of survivors were higher because more people sought early medical attention which had been what her organisation had been preaching all the time.
“Early detection can save lives as there are interventions to help patients diagnosed. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done when people report late,” she stressed.
She explained that the disease did not only affect the breast, but spread to other parts of the body, which if not taken care of, could be devastating.
Don’t spiritualise breast cancer
The Chief of Tepa, Nana Adusei Atwenewaa Ampem I, said the actual cause of the disease was still not known, "but I can say that Satan has no hand in it and, therefore, we should stop spiritualising it."
He encouraged men to help examine the breasts of their wives on a regular basis.
Nana Ampem I also promised to offer a parcel of land to Breast Care International for a breast cancer hospital to be established to cater for people in that part of the country.
He said the facility should also serve as a research centre and for development.
The Municipal Chief Executive for Ahafo Ano North, Martina Appiah-Nyantakyi, called for more collaboration between the private sector and the government to assist women with conditions because most of them shied away from hospitals due to lack of funds.
She promised to work closely with Breastcare International to take the fight to schools to help correct any erroneous impression associated with the disease.
There were goodwill messages from some international bodies as well as the Moroccan ambassador, Ms Quaadil.
Breast Cancer Awareness month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it is also known as the Pink Ribbon month - an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, and is the most common cause of cancer among women in most countries. In low- and middle-income countries the incidence has been rising steadily due to increased life expectancy, changing reproductive patterns (such as later age at first childbirth and less breast-feeding), and the adoption of western lifestyles.
Global data indicates that there are about 1.7 million new cases and 522,000 deaths from breast cancer each year.
Early diagnosis remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. When found early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option.