Mohammed Nasim, Minister for Health and Family Welfare on Sunday said that the government will provide free breast cancer scanning services to poor women from the government hospitals across the country from December.
The first ever free service of breast cancer scanning test will be given to poor women in the month of December every year.
"All government hospitals will provide this free service to those, who are financially not capable of footing the bill for the test, free of cost every December," he said.
"Mortality can be reduced if appropriate measures can be taken to detect breast cancer at an early stage and in this regard awareness and screening can save thousands of life," he added. Comparing girls and women with those of the western countries he said that Bangladeshi girls get breast cancer at a young age compared to those of the developed countries. He also suggested building up more awareness and campaign programme on scourge of breast cancer.
The Health Minister told this to the daily Observer on Saturday. According to estimates revealed by different government and non-government institutions, there are more than 12 lakh breast cancer patients in the country.
A total of 8, 396 women die each year from breast cancer and the number of new cases in Bangladesh is 17,781 every year, International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests. However, no government or non-government institution has got the actual statistics of the total number of breast cancer-affected women in the country. There is neither any separate data of the total number of women affected with breast cancer.
According to a recent report of the World Health Organisation (WHP), breast cancer has been identified as the second deadly disease across the world. Nearly 10.50 crore women are affected around the world by cancer each year and most of them are residing in the third world countries, including Bangladesh. Under the financial support of the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), the government has opened two centres each in 54 districts across the country for examination of ovarian and breast cancers.
Dr Habibullah Talukdar, Associate Professor of the Epidemiology Department of the National Cancer Research Institution, said the treatment of cancer is expensive in the country. He also added that apart from creating awareness about breast cancer by public sector medical colleges, Bangladesh Cancer Society, Society of Radiation Oncologists, all the branches of Bangladesh Mahila Samity, Oncology Centre and Club and Radiotherapy Department of the medical colleges are working on the prevention of breast cancer.
About the treatment and prevention of the disease, Dr Golam Mohiuddin Faruque, a cancer expert and a professor of DMCH, said women should go for self-examination of their breasts once a month after menstruation.