February 5, 2019
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
First Lady Fatima Bio has spoken about the urgent need for a cancer treatment centre to be constructed in the country to help save the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who are afflicted with the disease.
“We have suffered a lot and we deserve a cancer centre. Because of the magnitude of cancer among women, I believe the construction of a diagnostic and treatment centre will change the statistics,” the first lady said.
She was speaking yesterday at a conference hosted at the Bintumani International Conference Centre to commemorate this year’s World Cancer Day on the theme: “I am and I will”.
She stated that they have already commenced the advocacy for a dedicated cancer treatment centre in Sierra Leone as a matter of urgency.
She disclosed that they have already engaged the services of an architect, who have put together a concept and designed a three hundred beds cancer facility to serve the whole of Sierra Leone and the Mano River Union.
“We must dream big as a nation in order to solve our most pressing needs. Let us spread the news that cancer is not a death sentence and it should not be concealed. It cannot be treated with silence. We should not treat those afflicted with cancer with stigma,” she said.
She emphasised that the cure for cancer was not in spiritual churches or mosque, nor will it be cured by local herbs or witchdoctors.
First Lady Bio added that the treatment for cancer was early diagnosis by trained and qualified medical experts, while challenging every sierra Leonean to be informed and empowered about cancer.
She disclosed that with the support of Mack Foundation, ten (10) medical practitioners will be leaving soon for India and Egypt respectively, to undergo specialised training on the treatment of cancer.
“We are expecting that upon their return, local medical expertise around cancer diagnostic and care will be strengthened. We will continue to advocate for additional training opportunities for nurses and doctors. Let us continue the advocacy to stop the thousands of people that are dying of the disease,” she said.
In his keynote address, President Julius Maada Bio pledged his government’s support to the cancer awareness raising campaign.
According to him, at least three thousand Sierra Leoneans were afflicted with cancer every year with 2,200 of them dying of the disease.
“Our mothers, aunts and friends deserve to live. We believe that cancer is preventable and Sierra Leoneans should be fully involved on risk factors. We must intensify our awareness campaign without further delay,” he urged.
He assured of his government commitment and determination to have both a cancer and diagnostic centres in the country so that those afflicted will have access to quality treatment and care.