Small efforts make a difference in the fight against cancer

As cancer continues to cause damage small efforts around the world can make a difference

February 4 was World Cancer Day. Just another day in the calendar! Not really, if you consider that it is a reminder of the fact that an estimated 13 million plus new cases occur every year. Between them, different forms of cancer kill more than 7.5 million people every year. Once of the major objectives of observing the day is to bring about better awareness. Many people know, even more need to. And to this end, every small effort counts. And that includes this project that has just got off the ground in a small Roche market, Vietnam.

The ‘We care for her’ program was launched by Roche Pharma Vietnam in December last year in association with the Vietnam ministry of health and a patient support group – Bright Future Fund.  Comprising of different action plans the program focuses on raising public awareness and support women with early breast cancer detection, prevention and treatment.

Taking it personally

One of the driving forces of the project is local Roche Product Manager Xuan Trinh. And she took things very personally. “When I started this project I thought about myself as a woman. And then, I thought about the other women around me, my mother, grandmother, aunt, sisters and daughter. I also thought about my friends and teachers. I realized how bleak and sad life would be if one of them died of breast cancer. So I decided to fight back by spreading the word and putting forth an action plan,” Xuan says.

The spark for the project came from the findings of the Vietnam Institute for Cancer Prevention that said in a recent report that each year 12,000 new breast cancer cases were being diagnosed. A quarter of these were HER2 positive. The institute also cautioned that patients were often going to the hospital very late, thereby negating the benefits that could be accrued from timely treatment. This is a serious issue, given that Vietnam is a developing country with low to moderate incomes.

National effort

‘We care for her’ will be rolled out at the national level between 2013 and 2015 to start off with. In addition to a series of educational activities, Roche and Bright Future Fund will cooperate with cancer specialty hospitals in the country to conduct free clinical examinations and detection for women and support the training of doctors and nurses in breast cancer prevention. This has started in five cities – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hue and Can Tho.

“In Vietnam in addition to the 12,000 new cases the mortality rates are as high as 35 percent. Therefore we need to increase knowledge about prevention, but also early detection and available treatments,” Inge Kusuma, Roche Vietnam Country Manager, pointed out, speaking at the launch of the project. Dr Nguyen Thi Xuyen, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister for Health and Swiss Ambassador Andrej Motyl were also present at the event.

Tags: Women's Health, Sustainability, Innovation, Society