Walk program in support of October International Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The ” Save Your Life with Self Breast Examination” program organized by Mathiwos Wondu–YeEthiopia Cancer Society, with the collaboration of The First lady Office of Ethiopia/ Cancer Control Committee/, the Federal Ministry of Health, four Regional Health Bureaus /Oromia, Amhara, Southern Ethiopia Nation, Nationalities and People and Tigray/, Ethiopian Cancer Association and Cancer Care Ethiopia in support of October International Breast Cancer Awareness Month was held on October 26, 2014 in front of the General Post Office, here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thousands of participants including H.E, Roman Tesfaye, The First Lady of Ethiopia, H.E.Mrs.Demetu Hambessa, Minister of Science & Technology, H.E.Dr.Addis Tamire, Director General, Office of the Minister, Federal Ministry of Health, World renowned business women Mrs. Bethelehem Tilahun, owner of Sole Rebels Ethiopia, Cervical Cancer & United Nation Development Program/UNDP/ Ambassador, members and supporters of the three
cancer organizations actively participated in the program. The Guest of Honors launched the walk program and after joining the walk for a while left. The participants led by the organizers peacefully concluded and finally gathered at Ethiopian National Theater for the second part of
the program.Walking program2
Dr. Yetenayet Abebe, Chairperson of Board of Directors and Fund Raising and Promotion Committee of Mathiwos Wondu-YeEthiopia Cancer Society and Chairperson of the Organizing Committee presented welcoming speech on the behalf of the organizing committee. She reminded the participants on how this walk program started by Mathiwos Wondu-YeEthiopia Cancer Society eight years ago with fairly small number and how the society later on invited Ethiopian Cancer Association and how Cancer Care Ethiopia joined afterwards. She finally outlined on how the effort being made by the society and its partners finally joined by the Federal Ministry of Health, The First Lady of Ethiopia, Head of Ethiopian National Cancer Control Committee, the four major regional health bureaus, which transformed the event in to more of national program. She also explained the event’s main campaign statement and on how the program started 29 years ago in the United States of America.Walking program6

Mr. Eshetu Yohannes, Master of Ceremony, from Cancer Care Ethiopia and Dr. Yetenayet Abebe, Chairperson of the Organizing Committee, Board of Directors and Fund Raising and Promotion Committee of Mathiwos Wondu-YeEthiopia Cancer Society, familiarizing the program and presenting welcoming speech respectively.

Dr. Addis Tamire, in his key note speech stressed the importance of further developing and scaling up of the Health Development Sector. He also stated, while there have been significant progress towards meeting of the overall Millennium Development Goals (MDG), there more
work needed to be done towards improving the standard of maternal health. He also stressed the need to increase the number of health professionals, health facilities, equipping health facilities, procurement etc as being a key intervention towards facilitating the delivery of effective health care.
According Dr. Addis Tamire, is undergoing a rapid economic transformation that is increasingly accompanied by changes in the dietary and lifestyle behaviors of the population that contribute to increasing risks of preventable chronic illnesses. The double burden of communicable and
chronic diseases is a challenge to health as well as to national socio economic development. In Ethiopia, chronic diseases are posing a formidable social and economic burden on individuals, families and the nation at large. A considerable amount of public and private resources is being taken up for the clinical care of patients with chronic diseases.Dr. Addis Tamire confirmed the commitment of the ministry in challenging the growing burden of NCDs in general and cancer in particular and noted that project is under way to improve the existing cancer diagnostic & treatment facilities by expanding the services, as initial step, to five selected regional University Hospitals. Plan on human resource development for the expansion sites and to sustain the services nationally was considered by upgrading the Tikur Anbessa Hospital, this include preparation to implement education/training clinical oncologist, Nuclear medicine physician, medical physicist, technologist, oncology nurses is already initiated. Besides, due consideration is taken on the required future expansion needs. Efforts being made to make almost all cancer medicines available and affordable. According to him the radiotherapy
machines will be installed soon at the five main Regional Referral University Hospitals situated 3 in Mekelle, Gondar, Jimma, Hawassa and Haromaya. He also confirmed the on-going effort to start cervical cancer treatment at more than 120 public hospitals and towards these ends procurement of cryotheraphy and related machines is under way. Upon the completion of the physical facilities housing the machines and other essential facilities cancer treatment will be available at regional level for the first time.Dr. Addis Tamire finally congratulated all three cancer organizations for successfully organizing the walk program and declared the ministries commitment to become actively involved in assisting the organizations effort in every possible way, to help make a difference in the outcome of a cancer prevention and treatment and to take part in the national effort, by filling the gaps that the government alone is not in a position to handle.H.E.Mrs.Demetu Hambissa, Minister of Science and Technology of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, on her key note speech acknowledged the effort being made by the Federal Ministry of Health and the First Lady of Ethiopia and thanked the organizers for inviting her to the program. She informed the participants on the on-going effort to procure five radiotherapy machines intended for five regional university hospitals and training of oncologists being given by Addis Ababa University.Walking program7

Dr. Addis Tamire of the Federal Ministry of Health and H.E. Mrs.Demetu Hambessa, Minister of Science & Technology presenting keynote speech and H.E, Roman Tesfaye, The First Lady of Ethiopia presenting opening speech.

The month of October has seen one of the most dramatic events since the struggle to get access for better treatment service waged in Ethiopia by patients directly affected by cancer and organizations representing cancer patients. The wife of Ethiopian Prime Minister Her Excellence, Mrs. Roman Tesfaye has brought together major stakeholders in the country working to prevent and control cancer at October International Breast Cancer Awareness Month program, which is celebrated worldwide every year on month of October. The program on the way
deliberated on the on-going activities currently being undertaken in the country to arrest the spread of cancer and gauge the countries status in this regard. 4 In the opening speech her excellence, Mrs. Roman Tesfaye addressed to participants,underscored the problem of cancer as pressing public issue which towards its resolution the concerted efforts of all stakeholders very crucial. She also expressed her will and determination to work along with all stakeholders to raise the profile of cancer in Ethiopia and mobilize supports from every corner to expedite the nation’s bid to prevent and control cancer. The First Lady informed the on-going effort being made by the National Cancer Control Committee the joint effort being made with the federal ministry of health and other stakeholders, including commemorating 2014 World Cancer Day at the Prime Minister Office and conducting advocacy training given at highest level to parliamentarians at House of Representatives/Parliament/ of
Ethiopia last May 2014 and effort being made to start cervical and breast cancer treatments at regional level. Finally she thanked all involved in organizing the program and assured the organizers and participants her commitment to actively involved in national effort intended to
decrease the suffering of cancer patients and increase their survival rate. As per agreement reached at National Cancer Control Committee, October International Beast Cancer Awareness Month was commemorated at Annual Review Meeting /ARM/ Meeting organized by the Federal Ministry of Health/FMoH/ held from October 14 to 17, 2014 at the beautiful city of Dire Dawa, situated at Eastern Part of Ethiopia. The first Lady of Ethiopia presented her historical speech on the growing cancer burden in general and efforts being made to challenge it on October 17, 2014 at the dinner party organized by the Federal Ministry of Health. Thanks to our continued and concerted effort and the works by government and other stakeholders, we have been able to create conducive socio political environment for preventing and controlling of Non-Communicable Diseases/NCD/ in general and cancer in particular. Thus, we can assert that the socio political dynamics in Ethiopia more than ever has been dramatically
changed to favor NCD. Towards these ends, It is apparent that the society’s involvement in the National Technical Working Group /NTWG/on NCDs and National Cancer Control Committees etc as well as taskforces has contributed its own share to the policy changes at national level. However, it would be an exaggeration if we say the society was the only driving force. The efforts being made by government, our First Lady of Ethiopia, other
stakeholders and partners also needs to be acknowledged.
Representatives of the cancer organizations, Mr. Habtamu Belete, General Manager of Ethiopian Cancer Association, Mr. Wondu Bekele, General Manager of Mathiwos Wondu-YeEthiopia Cancer Society and Mr. Girum Moges, one of the founders and Chairman of Cancer Care
Ethiopia welcomed the participants on behalf of their respective organizations and briefed the
participants on what they have been doing and trying to achieve in the future.

Walking program4From left, Mr. Habtamu Belete, Mr. Wondu Bekele, and Mr. Girum Moges presenting welcoming speech respectively.

Briefing on cancer in general and breast cancer in particular presented by Dr. Bogale Solomon, Oncologist followed afterwards by emotional experience sharing by breast cancer and pediatric cancer patients and followed by short drama helped to transform the program in to one of the most inspirational and the largest health campaign program of its kind in the world.

Walking program5From left, Dr. Bogale Solomon, Oncologist and breast cancer and pediatric cancer patients presenting briefing on breast cancer care provision and experience sharing respectively.

Official opening of the walk program by Her Excellence the First Lady, Mrs. Roman Tesfaye/in the middle/ and Mrs.Demetu Hambessa, Ministry of Science and technology. The walk program managed to attract thousands, widely believed to be one of the largest public health campaign program of its kind in the world.
This wonderful event, the overall objective of which will be to enhance the awareness of the Society of cancer in general and breast cancer in particular, believed to be very effective in reducing the overall cancer burden has been properly reported by the Ethiopian media. Next year, we are planning to conduct the program in more regions and cities of Ethiopia. Cancer Awareness Month is an annual international health campaign organized by major cancer organizations every October to increase awareness of the disease. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was founded in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca, maker of several anti-breast cancer drugs). The aim of the
NBCAM from the start has been to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer. In October 1983, the Race for the Cure was held for the first time in Dallas, Texas, where 800 people participated. In 1993 Evelyn Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder
Companies founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the pink ribbon as its symbol, though this was not the first time the ribbon was used to symbolize breast cancer. In the fall of 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation had handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October, people raise money by organizing
activities such as theme parties or a “pink day” (when employees wear pink clothing or accessories) at work. The money raised is donated to the organizers’ choice of breast cancer care or research programs. Early detection of breast cancer means a patient has more treatment choices and a much better
chance of recovery! In some cases early detection can increase, survival rates by up to 90%.Towards this end we have developed a guideline to encourage self-breast examination. Recent studies show that breast cancer is linked to several environmental and genetic factors, which can be controlled or mitigated. 2013/14 promises to be an important year. Non-Communicable Diseases together with maternal health and health development army confirmed to be one of the top three health sector priorities of Ethiopia. For the first time, reasonable amount of budget set aside for non-communicable diseases in general and cancer in particular. Accordingly, procurement of five radiotherapy and cryotheraphy machines is underway.

Thanks to the Federal ministry of Health and its partners cancer medicines are more than ever before becoming available and affordable and training of oncologists is underway at the Addis Ababa University. We believe the event acknowledged the global burden and threat of cancer and impact on social and economic development in Ethiopia. However, more needs to be done on the action side of things. Our work is only beginning – we need government to implement the commitments in the political declaration; we need strong national targets that set out the vision of where we are heading with our collective actions; we need national plans and strategies and we need NCDs as part of the MDGs. This process has highlighted once again the enormous power of a united cancer control community. From the global to local level, we have united behind a common strategy and made our voices heard loud and clear. We have to continue our united effort and commitment and will not rest until we have quality health services for those living with cancer and all other NCDs, and until measures are in place to stop the increase in new cases.
We would like to thank the following organizations for their continued support and cooperation.

The First Lady Office. The Federal Ministry of Health.
Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.
Sheger 102.1 FM Radio.
Addis Ababa Mass Media Agency.
Fana Broadcast Corporate.
Oromia Television.
Zami.FM 90.7 Radio.
Students of various schools.
Cancer patients and survivors, members, friends and supporters of our society, MWECS.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the following sponsors for their
generous support and active participation.
American Cancer Society.
Bristol Meyers Squibb Foundation.
MOHA Soft Drinks Industry.
Offshoring 2.0 Technology Services.
Maraki professional security and consultancy, and
Kinfe Video.

We are grateful to every single member, supporter and organization that showed the courage to step up and give of themselves. We are especially thankful to our members, professionals from media, sponsors and supporters, without whom we would not be able to organize this important event; to our volunteers with their relentless energy and selfless giving; to our staff and representatives who carry our name with dignity and pride; and to our survivors and caregivers for showing us the way. Cancer is not a battle that one can fight and win in isolation and we look forward to the
professional, moral and material support of willing individuals and organizations in order to make a difference!