Access Bank in partnership with Rwanda Biomedical Center has launched a breast cancer screening campaign targeting about 80,000 women.
The campaign is being held ahead of the international day for fighting against cancer scheduled on February 4 under the theme “We can I can”.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday in Kigali, Nadine Rutabayiro, the Team Lead/Woman Banking at Access Bank said that the screening is being carried out for both the bank’s staff and clients.
“As we help women to access finance for their economic empowerment, we strongly believe that they should also be healthy to be able to benefit from financial stability. We cannot talk about financial development without better health. That is why we are screening them for breast cancer in conjunction with RBC,” she said.
So far, she said, the Access Bank staff had mobilised over 80,000 women across the country, targeted for the screening.
Rutabayiro explained that those who will be found having breast cancer after the screening will receive credit for treatment from the bank’s special product.
“We have a product called maternal health support scheme where we provide credit at low interest rate (15%) compared to other products at 19 per cent interest rate. So those who may be found with such cancer can access medical treatment and pay back later. They can access treatment in Rwanda and abroad,” she said.
Dr Francois Uwinkindi, the Director of Cancer unit at Rwanda Biomedical Center said the breast cancer campaign complements government efforts in raising awareness on prevention, and early detection of cancer for easy treatment.
In Rwanda reports show that at least 300 women have breast cancer, according to Uwinkindi.
“The number is low but we think there are many others who are suffering from such cancer and die because they never go for early examination thinking they are suffering from different disease which is not cancer,” he said.
The campaign involves cancer awareness including prevention measures.
Breast and uterus cancer are the most common cancers affecting women.
“People seek medical support when they are already at an incurable stage because they delayed to screen. It is better a woman is examined every month,” said Uwinkindi.
He added that the campaign will continue with other types of cancer as well.
Dealing with challenge of high treatment cost
Cancer treatment involves surgery, medicaments that kill cells with cancer as well as radiotherapy, currently being introduced in Rwanda, according to Uwinkindi.
“We still have challenges such as scanty knowledge about cancer and treatment cost. That is why early detection helps to treat it easily. Patients are put in four stages and each stage might have different cost of treatment. But the cost ranges between Rwf3 million to even Rwf20 million depending on the stage,” he said.
He added that after screening, those with cancer symptoms will pass through transferring channels for treatment by using different types of health insurance they have.
Pacifique Uwase, a woman who turned up for screening said the exercise was timely.
“I know my colleagues who have breast cancer and they are struggling. If their cancer had been detected earlier, they would not be facing such struggle. If I am found safe, I will be going for screening regularly. It is better to know my status and prepare how to deal with it,” she said.