Former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor have marshalled their combined statesmanship behind a fundraising initiative to support thousands of Ghanaian cancer victims who cannot afford the high cost of treating the disease.
The Sweden-Ghana Cancer Foundation (SGCF), which was officially launched by Mr Kufuor in Accra, with Mr Rawlings in attendance, seeks to raise, at least, $5 million to support the treatment and awareness of cancer, which is fast becoming the number one killer disease in Ghana.
The trustees are Dr Henry Broni-Amponsah, the Managing Director of the SGMC and founder and chairman of the SGCF; Lady Julia Osei Tutu, the wife of the Asantehene, and Kwasi Nyantakyi, the President of the Ghana Football Association.
At the launching ceremony, President Kufuor said: “This foundation we are launching is definitely a very worthy cause” and urged Ghanaians to contribute to it and help sustain the initiative.
He said if he had the requisite financial wherewithal, he would wish to sustain the foundation all by himself.
“We all have to be part in the education of the general public that early detection of (cancer) improves the victim’s chances to be cured,” he said.
It is estimated that 1,300 new cases of different forms of cancer are reported in Ghana every month with many of the victims dying in due course, mainly because they either cannot afford the high cost of treatment or report the cases late for treatment or lack knowledge of the disease.
The chilling images and accounts of cancer victims in a documentary screened at the launching ceremony strongly drove the message home to the audience as they came to terms with the imperative to find a cure to the disease or deal with the issues of affordability of treatment and misconceptions about the disease.
Against the backdrop of the huge affordability gap and the projection by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that cancer cases would increase in Africa in the years ahead, the Sweden-Ghana Medical Centre (SGMC), a cancer treatment centre in Accra, realised the need to establish the SGCF in June, this year to support those who cannot afford the cost of treatment.
A Breast Cancer Surgeon at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Prof. Joe Nat Clegg-Lamptey, said many cancer victims were dying because they reported the cases late “but the saddest thing is that people are dying because they cannot afford the treatment”.
He said the fight against cancer encompassed prevention, early screening, diagnosis and treatment.
Prof. Clegg-Lamptey said the enormity of the problem was beyond the means of the government alone, and, therefore, called on all and sundry to support the treatment of cancer.
For his part, Dr Broni-Amponsah said the initiative was geared towards demystifying cancer and also helping to deal with the psycho-social troubles cancer victims normally suffered.
Donors to the foundation are requested to direct their contributions in the name of the Sweden-Ghana Cancer Foundation to Account Numbers 1050030953996 (Fidelity Bank) and 01610420001 (Bank of Africa).
Under the trusteeship of three distinguished personalities, the foundation will restore hope to many a cancer victim with the view to saving lives, and also help the cause of an education campaign to sensitise the public to the early detection of the disease in order to minimise its consequences.