First Lady Monica Geingos. Photo courtesy of The Namibian
FIRST Lady Monica Geingos has urged the private sector to join in the fight against HIV-AIDS and cancer.
Geingos made the call last week when she spoke at Windhoek Central Hospital during the visit of former US president George W Bush and his wife Laura. The Bushes were in the country on a two-day visit which ended on Wednesday.
The purpose of the Bushes’ visit was to celebrate progress made in the fight against HIV-AIDS under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar), UNAIDS, Susan G Komen and the Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon initiative of the Bush Institute, which was launched in 2011.
According to Geingos, a lot of assistance has been provided by international organisations such as UNAIDS, the Global Fund, Pepfar, and others, but there has not been much involvement from the local private sector.
“Private partnership is missing […], there is no more space for silence. Domestically, all institutions here need to get along, they need to make a difference,” she said.
Head of oncology at the hospital, Anel Zietsman said at the same occasion that cancer cases amongst women were on the rise, and were predicted to increase by 70% over the next decade.
She said in Namibia, most women with cancer died of breast cancer, followed by cervical cancer, adding that deaths could be prevented if there were more treatment facilities in the country.
“There are only two cancer treatment facilities, a private one and a public one. We need more facilities for the entire country,” Zietsman said.
According to a fact sheet by the Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon organisation which fights cancer, many HIV positive women are vulnerable to the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which leads to cancer.
However, chances of developing cancer, according to the Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon body, could be reduced by up to 90% through vaccination against HPV.
Also speaking at the event, health minister Bernard Haufiku said concerning treatment, some of the obstacles faced, especially across rural Namibia, was that people were still bound by culture, poverty and dependency, and only ended up seeking treatment when their illness was already at an advanced stage.
Bush praised Namibia’s efforts in fighting HIV-AIDS and cancer amongst women, and called on the new US administration to continue supporting Pepfar’s activities.
This article originally appeared on The Namibian.