Addressing the event, the Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz said: “Breast cancer is not necessarily lethal but women in Afghanistan die of the disease because they are not aware of the process of cancerous diseases especially breast cancer, and they do not visit health centers on time.”
This was echoed by a number of people present, especially after Dr. Richard Peer Karen, a World Health Organization representatives, said that the disease is expected to double globally in the next two decades.
“Breast cancer represents one in four of all cancers in women. Cancer is ranked among the top four leading causes of death in WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, which Afghanistan is also part of. The incidents are expected to almost double in the next two decades in the region. In Afghanistan, there is not enough quality data on breast cancer so we do not know the full extent of this issue,” he said.
According to some statistics, at least 20,000 people are diagnosed annually in Afghanistan with cancer – of which 7,000 are women with breast cancer.
Meanwhile, members of the Breast Cancer Prevention and Advocacy Campaign criticized government and aid organizations for not helping them in their quest to educate people about cancer.
“We established this association one year ago and now for the first time the Red Cross Society has pledged to provide us with land for building a cancer diagnosis center,” said Dr. Alema, a member of the group.
However, some breast cancer survivors say that too many women lose their lives because of a lack of awareness.
Fatima Bakhtiar, one cancer survivor said: “I urge all organizations to build a center for diagnosing cancerous diseases – at least one for each zone in the country.”
Meanwhile, the First Lady Rula Ghani urged the nation to help the cause and support the campaign.
“There are many women that suffer from breast cancer in the country and they lose their lives because the disease is not diagnosed,” she said.