Need of Advocacy and awareness about cancer in Nepal
Many people in Nepal are ignorant about cancer. This is because unlike infectious disease, chronic diseases like cancer comes under least priority area of governmental health policy in Nepal. Very few national programs are conducted to educate and aware people about cancer. Education program are conducted sporadically and only few people have access to such program.
In the recent time, Healthy Nepal Foundation (HNF), an organization dedicated to increase awareness about cancer has done some remarkable work to increase understanding of cancer to Nepalese population. Since 2012, HNF has developed several education modules to educate students and public about common cancer such as cervical, breast, oral and lung cancer in Nepal. With the help of volunteers from different colleges, this organization conducts program at colleges and sometime in the community.
|TUTH Nursing student Leraning about breact cancer condition in Nepal|
|Dr. kalyan sapkota addressing key points of breast cancer at NAMS to Nursing students|
Volunteers is the main working pillars of HFN. “With the help of volunteers, we are able to conduct education programs at around twenty schools to date and our main goal is to educate student and the public about cancer and its prevention”, said Kiran Sapkota, co-founder of the organization. “We are dedicated to educate and inform public about risks of cancer and promote healthy life style to reduce cancer burden in the society”, Sapkota said.
Members of healthy Nepal foundation have conducted several education program at secondary schools, higher secondary colleges and universities around the nation. HN College Coordinator Mr. Sunil Pandey, who is also a student of Medical Microbiology at Nobel College, said “we have got very good response and appreciation from both teachers and guardians from respective schools where we conduct cancer education program”. Mr. Pandey was so passionate to assist HNF that he allocate his tight time schedule out of his college to conduct programs around the nation. Mr. Pandey contact schools, recruit volunteers, communicate with teacher and conduct education awareness program at different schools around the country. “With the help of experts we were able to develop education material for only few cancers and we are still developing additional cancer programs in the future” said Pandey.
Healthy Nepal Foundation is operated by physicians, public health officials, and community and school volunteers. Till date it has conducted programs in Parwat, Myagdi, Baglung, Pokhara, Kathmandu, Chitwan and several other districts. “Our main aim is to make a disease free healthy society” said Dr. Kalyan Sapkota, another co-founder of the organization. Dr. Sapkota and his team have conducted cancer screening programs at several communities in Myagdi, Parwat and Baglung in the past.
Currently Healthy Nepal has concentrated more of its activities on educating students and public about cervical and breast cancer. “These two cancers are the significant cause of mortality and morbidity in women in Nepal” said Dr. Sapkota. With the available funding, Healthy Nepal Foundation had organized free Pap smear screening camp at different places in Nepal. A pap test is the best way to detect cell changes that may be early sign of precancerous of the cervix.
Dr. Sapkota added that, Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there are a number of risk factors. “If we reduce these risk factors, we can minimize the number of cancer patients in Nepal’, said Dr. Sapkota. Sharing his experience while conducting cervical cancer awareness program, Mr. Sunil Pandey said, we were so shocked to know that many students do not know much about common cancer, and many have misconception about it. After we conduct program, we do posttest and found that our program really changed how students perceive about cancer. Their knowledge remarkably changes just after an hour or two education session, added Mr. Pandey. Many women do not know about the screening test available to detect cancer at early age. This include Pap smear screening and self-breast examination in Nepal.
Mr. Sunil Panday said there are several opportunities available for youth to be involved in cancer education projects. He is recruiting many volunteers to initiate oral and lung cancer awareness in the near future. For more information or to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/healthynepal