Ms Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, Chairperson of the Women Caucus in Parliament, has called on government to include breast reconstruction surgery for breast cancer patients into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
She said the NHIS only covers the cost of cryotherapy for cancer patients but does not cover reconstructive breast surgery for breast cancer patients.
She called on government to take the necessary steps, even if it requires amending the NHIS Act (Act 654) to extend the coverage to comprise breast reconstruction surgery for breast cancer patients.
Ms Adwoa Sarfo made the call when she presented a statement on the floor of Parliament to commemorate this year’s Breast Cancer month.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set aside the month of October for breast cancer awareness dubbed as “Pink month”.
The occasion is to conscientize and support awareness creation by advocating for early detection and treatment for the disease.
Ms Adwoa Sarfo entreated women to regularly visit hospitals designated for breast cancer screening to undertake this vital exercise.
She said early detection helps in early treatment and called on all husbands to give the needed support to the women in the fight against the disease and not see it as problem for the women only.
Ms Adwoa Sarfo said a study by International Agency for Research on cancer shows that there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458,000 deaths from breast cancer each year.
She said WHO report shows that breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in developed and developing countries as well as in low and middle income countries where the issue has been rising steadily on yearly bases due to poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, increase urbanization and adaptation of western lifestyles.
She said in Ghana the incidence of breast cancer are 0.76 percent which is predicted to increase with time and nearly 70 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Ghana are in advanced stages.
She said about 30 percent of these cancer cases were below age 35 years. This indicates there is a shift of cancer disease from older women to younger ones, adding that breast cancer screening should start from early twenties.
Ms Adwoa Sarfo said because there are no comprehensive researches on the causes of breast cancer due to discrepancies in the data for various countries early detection of the disease remains very important in the attempt to control it.
She said the WHO promotes comprehensive breast cancer control programme as part of the national control plans.
She called on the Ministry of Health to follow the steps of WHO in ensuring they reduce the rate of women likely to suffer from the disease.
Dr Sebastian Sandaare, MP for Daffiama-Bussie-Issa, said the problem with breast cancer in Ghana is that those who suffer from the disease report late to the various health facilities late, hence the need for the intensification of public education about the disease.
He said any abnormality that a woman or a man detects in the breast should to be reported to the hospital for examination.
He called on Ghanaians to live a healthy life by exercising regularly and refrain from alcohol and smoking.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister of Health, commended his colleague MPs who made insightful contributions and advocacy on the issue.
He said statistics from his sector shows that non-communicable diseases has risen to become number one even more than malaria and cases for breast cancer disease is very high.
He said for breast cancer early detection and treatment of the disease is critical to controlling it.
Mr Agyeman-Manu also announced that his Ministry recently launched a critical medicine list to tackle breast cancer which would be included in the NHIS.
He said the government is planning to establish more cancer centres in addition to existing ones in Komfo Anokye and Korle-Bu hospitals.