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Free Cancer Care for Women in India

One organization is helping people realize that healthy boobs lead to more prosperous communities.

In India, Kudumbashree, literally translated to prosperity of family, is dedicated to bettering the quality of life for women and giving them the tools to feel empowered. Recently, they launched a new initiative to provide free cancer care to women in Kerala, a state located in the Malabar region of the Indian subcontinent. Unlike any other women’s cancer care focused program, this program employs 150 female volunteers who receive intense training on educating women about cancer detection, screening for breast and ovarian cancers, and providing the appropriate treatment.

The program was structured under the guidance of local leaders in the field of cancer care, including the founder of Malabar Cancer Center, D. Krishnanadha Pai, managing director of and gynecologist at Malabar Hospital in Eranhipalam, Dr. P.A. Lalitha, and other experts at the Malabar Cancer Institute in Thalassery.

The project manager in charge of the initiative, M.V. Ramsi Ismail, claims that the program received applications from 3,000 different neighborhood groups, which are local community groups that focus on bringing Kudumbashree’s goals to fruition. After a selective application process, the volunteers received their training with the aid of Kudumbashree’s Eksat (Empowerment through knowledge skill, attitudinal change, and training) training and research institute and the experts that helped shape the program.

The program aims to use its volunteers to tackle the lack of awareness of breast and ovarian cancers. Because many women in India aren’t aware of the signs of breast cancer, only 50 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer seek medical attention once they are in the third or fourth stage of this disease, which has devastating consequences being that breast cancer caught in earlier stages is much more treatable.

Through conducting their awareness programs, Kudumbashree intends to educate women about the signs of different cancers so that they can go to a doctor as soon as they notice a potential sign.

Beyond giving women the tools to perform self-examinations, the program involves its volunteers in cancer detection camps in which volunteers have access to the instruments necessary to check for signs of breast and ovarian cancer. Should any of the women find suspected signs of cancer and have their diagnosis confirmed by a doctor, the volunteers in this program stand by them until the completion of their treatment.

To these volunteers standing by these cancer patients means making house visits for any woman who is struggling emotionally or physically with the diagnosis or the treatment she is receiving. Where other programs might require the patients to leave their homes and visit a separate, unfamiliar facility for this sort of support, this program recognizes the importance of being at home, close to family. Thus, the program emphasizes efforts to reach their cancer patients at home. Ramsi Ismail mentioned a phone line in which cancer patients who do not necessarily need a house visit can use to interact with the volunteers. Ismail said, “We are also planning to introduce a helpline number so that cancer patients can make use of the services of volunteers [and] share their problems with the volunteers.”

Through free of cost health education, emotional support, and medical assistance, this particular Kudumbashree initiative is truly helping women, their families, and their communities prosper.

Featured Image by Brian Evans on Flickr

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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