CAN's Northern Outreach
The Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) has it as its mission to expand its footprint and impact on lives affected by cancer throughout all regions of Namibia during the next 5 years and as part of this objective the “Northern Outreach” was launched recently.
CAN CEO, Mr Rolf Hansen, and CAN Registered Nurse, Sister Christy Kavetuna, travelled to the North during 11 – 13 July 2015 to launch the Northern Outreach programme in Oshakati, Ondangwa and Ongwediva.
During the visit to the Oshakati State Hospital certain needs for support and co-operation in the fight against cancer were identified, as well discussions on how to proceed with implementation of the Northern Outreach to successfully fight cancer in the North.
During discussions with several local medical teams the consensus was reached that cancer is still highly stigmatized and that urgent information, education and communication on the topic need to be promoted in the North, to ensure that a “cancer-wise” community is established.
“We can all remember how HIV and Aids education programmes were rolled out in the early nineties to create awareness and destigmatize in the fight against that disease. As we come to the reality that cancer is turning into a pandemic in Namibia due to the alarming high cancer diagnosis from all corners of our country, it is imperative that we educate our brothers and sisters of Namibia to fight cancer hand-in-hand, “ says Hansen.
During the Outreach a new “Community Pap Smear Clinic” initiative was established between the Association and local Oshakati Pharmacy of Mr Piet Williams. Sr Kavetuna trained their local registered nurse to conduct pap smear examinations at a minimal cost of N$30 per lady, while the remaining costs of instruments used, administration and development of slides and results are paid for by the Cancer Association of Namibia. Oshakati Pharmacy sponsors the venue and salary of the registered nurse conducting the examinations.
This initiative hopes to educate ladies on self-examination, follow-up examinations and breast examinations to reduce the high prevalence of breast and cervical cancer that is also two of the most common in Namibia.
A group of Reach for Cancer Recovery volunteers and local community activist in the fight for education dispersal, awareness and support was also trained at Oshakati. This group of eleven volunteers successfully completed the training in phase 1 counselling and support to cancer patients and their families in the North. Through the Reach for Cancer Recovery programme, the Cancer Association of Namibia aims to train and equip local community members with information on becoming cancer smart, and establishing a peer-to-peer emotional support programme to help fight cancer in Namibia.
As part of the further expansions of the Northern Outreach another follow-up visit is anticipated to the North in November when further outreach to the Oncology Department at the Oshakati State Hospital will be conducted, while a Cancer Walk and Awareness Brunch is in the planning in co-operation with the Ongwedia Medi-Park.
Next on the agenda is a Rundu Cancer Outreach with Katima Mulilo and Rehoboth to follow and then the deep South as well.