Thousands of women gathered at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Alexandra to find out more about improving their health and lifestyle. This special event which ran for three days from 4th to 6th February 2010 was an opportunity for many women to be tested for different types of diseases.
Addressing the crowd, Mrs Marcia Pires, the founder of Women In Action (WiA) said, “There is no sin in looking for a doctor. They are tools of God and will help you improve the quality of your life. Once you are empowered, you will make a difference."
The Alexandra Women’s Health Project was organised by WiA in partnership with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) , Breast Health Foundation (BHF) and Gauteng Department of Health. International Cancer Day was on 4th February.
Ms Louise Turner from BHF said there were a number of women working in communities who had saved several women’s lives through education, prevention and early detection. Among the dignitaries present were special guest, Mrs Thobeka Zuma, Dr Buddy Modi from Bankmed Medical Scheme and Department of Health officials.
Stating that a healthy nation would promote economic growth, Mrs Zuma said, “I am happy to see many women gathered wanting to gain knowledge and pleased to see men as well, showing that cancer is not for women only. We need to show our communities that we care and have their best interests at heart. Cancer brings an emotional burden to families because they don’t have the knowledge to deal with it. ”
She urged everyone to focus on the theme “Cancer can be prevented too.” Information was given on different types of illnesses and healthy eating by the Department of Health. HIV tests and family counselling was also part of the programme and those who attended were given condoms and informed about safe sex and abstinence. Representatives of many organisations including the Hospice Association of Witwatersrand, CHOC (Children’s Haematology Oncology Clinics) Childhood Cancer Association and SANCA (South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) provided material and guidance. A variety of subjects was discussed including support groups for the elderly, cancer among children and foetal alcohol syndrome.
A record number of 650 pap smears were taken. Breast and womb cancer tests were conducted as well as tests for diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases. Those who attended also had the opportunity to have their blood pressure checked.
Ms Rebecca Musi from the BHF explained how women could examine themselves for the first signs of breast cancer.
Contribution of Nomsa Masengemu