Health minister joins PinkDrive initiative to highlight importance of cancer screening

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla and PinkDrive CEO and Founder, Noelene Kotschan. Picture: Supplied.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla and PinkDrive CEO and Founder, Noelene Kotschan. Picture: Supplied.

Published Feb 8, 2024


Health Minister Joe Phaahla and Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko have joined Noelene Kotschan, CEO of PinkDrive, on a screening to demonstrate their support for the significance of screening as they marked World Cancer Day 2024.

According to statistics, cancer is one of the world’s major causes of death; in 2020 alone, the disease claimed 10 million lives.

It is also said that cancer is a public health issue of utmost importance because many cancer types are preventable and many can be detected early.

Preventative measures and screening are among the best strategies to drastically reduce the incidence and death of the disease, as many cancers also take a long time to develop. It is preferable to prevent cancer than to treat it.

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals has donated a large donation to the local cancer Public Benefit Organisation (PBO), PinkDrive, as part of their commitment to putting an end to the pandemic.

In honour of World Cancer Day 2024, it is explained that the funds will be utilised for screening for prostate, lung, cervical, and breast cancer at a number of hospitals and clinics around the country in February.

Commenting on AstraZeneca’s donation, Kotschan said reach and presence are the cornerstones of successful cancer screening in South Africa.

“Mobility means all citizens can be reached and screened through visits to far-flung areas at key venues. The concept of mobile units is a revolutionary mechanism. It’s a form of accessibility and convenience, and it provides an approachable and timely real-life experience. It’s an innovative concept containing state-of-the-art equipment, bringing first-world screening to previously unreachable citizens of South Africa. We are so grateful to be partnering with AstraZeneca. With these funds, PinkDrive can support public health facilities by bringing critical cancer screening to communities with little or no access to these services.”

It is said that in some cases, PinkDrive’s mobile units will be dispatched, and trained medical staff will provide mammograms, pap smears, PSA blood tests, lung screening, ultrasounds, and other important screenings.

Commenting on the significance of screening, Khomotso Mashilane, medical director: African Cluster, at AstraZeneca, said: “The fact that the past 30 years saw a doubling in cancer incidence in Sub-Saharan Africa, with cancer deaths in the region expected to rise to 1 million per year by 2030, further highlights the need to unite in the fight against cancer. Public-private partnerships that advance the roll-out of screening initiatives are paramount in stopping cancer’s unabated rise on the continent.”

Furthermore, she claimed that individuals frequently neglect the gift of excellent health, expecting that it will always be available. However, implementing preventive measures is an effective method to protect this important asset.

“Many societies tend to react rather than be proactive, but the heartache of losing a loved one to a potentially preventable illness should serve as a poignant reminder of the significance of regular screening and disease symptom recognition. South Africans need to prioritise proactive health measures for a better tomorrow, but limited awareness about cancer and high levels of stigma often prevent this from happening,” added Mashilane.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the increasing adoption of behaviours such as smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, inadequate intake of fibre, fruit, and vegetables, and a lack of physical exercise are major contributing factors to the increased risk of cancer.

The Star