Education key to

2019-10-30 06:00
Dr Zukiswa JaftaPhoto: Supplied

Dr Zukiswa JaftaPhoto: Supplied

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Cancer education in vernacular is key to successful diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. This is according to Dr Zukiswa Jafta, founder of the Beat Cancer Foundation, in pursuit to curb breast cancer using vernacular (home language) to educate more communities about breast cancer.

The foundation has for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) undertaken to draw special attention to cultural understanding and communicating in vernacular being critical in cancer education, early diagnosis and successful treatment for women in rural areas.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among South African women of all races – aside from non-melanoma skin cancer. Despite the concerning situation, Jafta said many poor women lack access to information and services that could lead to speedy diagnosis and treatment of the disease. According to her, access to information and services are some of the major challenges South Africa’s healthcare sector must face up to raising breast cancer awareness.

Jafta maintains communicating in vernacular would further aid in early detection of breast cancer, even before physical symptoms develop.

“Far too many breast cancer patients from rural areas feel isolated, because they do not have access to medical practitioners who understand their culture or speak their language. Many others present themselves for treatment too late because they do not recognise the warning signs of cancer and fail to seek help in its early stages. This results in unnecessary suffering and loss of life since early diagnosis is the key to more favourable treatment outcomes,” said Jafta.

According to the 2014 National Cancer Registry (NCR), South African women have a lifetime risk of 1 in 27 of suffering from breast cancer. In 2013, deaths from breast cancer accounted for 0,7% of all deaths in South Africa, per the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

“Poor people without access to quality healthcare facilities near their homes or medical aid are especially vulnerable,” said Jafta.

Jafta founded the foundation to deliver culturally appropriate healthcare services and information to communities, first targeting rural communities in the Eastern Cape.

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