Minister for Health and Medical Services Hon. Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete has called on women to be more aware of the risks of breast cancer.

He made these comments while officially launching the Pinktober initiative at Jack’s of Fiji in Suva today.

Minister Waqainabete said a lot of cancer treatment in the country is carried out by Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services using its facilities.

“Having worked in the health system for the last 20-years I can say that we have 80 to 90 per-cent of all the treatment available that is needed for cancer locally,” he said.

He said that major hospitals in the country – Colonial War Memorial Hospital, Lautoka Hospital and Labasa Hospital have resources for the treatment of cancer.

‘We have surgeons trained in New Zealand and Australia, we have chemotherapy available locally and though we may not have radiotherapy a lot of the cancers are amenable with surgery and chemotherapy.”

Dr. Waqainabete said there are provisions in place to ensure Fijians who need cancer treatment not available locally which can be supported with Government’s allocation of overseas treatment schemes so that they are able to have adequate treatment provided overseas.

“Cervical cancer cases has declined compared to breast cancer due to the immunization provided to our daughters, which is the Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines given to 13-year-old girls,” Minister Waqainabete said.

He further highlighted that the ratio of Fijians presenting themselves for breast cancer examinations is now decreasing because of the increase in awareness programmes.

“We have a critical mass of doctors, nurses, health professionals and the Fiji Cancer Society that are able to penetrate into the community and create awareness,” Dr. Waqainabete said.

Dr Waqainabete also commended the benevolent work done by the corporate sectors especially Jack’s of Fiji which will support some of the chemotherapy treatments needed by patients.

An emotional 33-year-old cervical cancer survivor, Asenaca Riso shared her experience on the illness stressing the need for women to go for regular checkups and the importance of having Pap smear tests at the hospital.

“Cancer is a very ruthless disease and it spreads very fast. I thought the treatment was a walk in the park for 10-weeks but I had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment and I was in so much pain, bleeding heavily and homesick,” she said.

“I would like to thank the Fiji Cancer Society for their support in helping me emotionally and financially. If there is one thing a cancer patient needs it is your support and do know that cancer does not discriminate.”

Pinktober is held in October for a month-long of awareness, early detection and prevention and campaigns on risks of breast cancer.