“For how long shall we let our women continue to die?”
Last weekend our family traveled to Antananarivo, the capital city, so that I could attend a conference about “Ideas For Women’s Cancer Control in Africa”. This conference, organized by TEDx, brought in specialists from several countries, including Italy, France, India, Zimbabwe, the UK, South Africa, Madagascar and the good ole‘ US of A. The speakers were as varied as the countries represented… medical directors, researchers, surgeons, oncologists, radiotherapists, deans and professors in medical schools, naturopaths, members of parliament, psycho-therapists, philanthropists and cancer survivors.
A few take home points:
- breast and cervical mortality is high in African countries yet prevention and screening is at ground zero.
- cancer is now the LEADING cause of death and disability in developing countries.
- there’s only ONE radiotherapy machine in Madagascar… a country of 20 million people, and this machine is often broken… including NOW!
- a grassroots initiative is taking place to raise awareness, prevention, detection, treatment and research in Madagascar thanks to the Akbaraly Foundation.
Women are greatly esteemed in Madagascar. They are pillars in their families, in their churches, and in their society. As one speaker challenged the audience, “for how long shall we let our women continue to die?” I’m not sure where my role will be in this pocket of medicine here in Madagascar, but I do know one thing, God gave me the last 5 years in a clinic in Santa Barbara where half of my time was spent in women’s health and cancer screening.