Sometimes, it isn’t about how much of something you have but how well you use it. In this October month, the internet, despite only being used by 2.4% of the population, is playing a role in the fight against breast cancer in Côte d’Ivoire.
It started with Facebook posts on October 01st by influential members of the web community in Abidjan.
“I have checked my breasts. Have you?”
Of course, for a country of 22 million people, this effort won’t be felt very much outside of cyber space. If that is where all the efforts end up taking place.
Cancer brings with it the fear of wondering whether or not one will survive the trial. But in Côte d’Ivoire, this is further compounded by the fact that many women who could otherwise have been saved, succumbed to the disease. Late treatment is always the case.
The Ivorian government has taken the engagement to open two radiotherapy centres and train up more health workers. The first centre opened this April and while this is a good start, much more needs to be done. Previously, women diagnosed with breast cancer had to either go to morocco or even France to access treatments. As well as that, efforts also need to be focused on raising awareness among the population. Prof. Innocent Adoubi, the coordinator of the Fight Breast Cancer national programme, women need to be trained in doing their own check-ups so that they are able to rapidly detect any abnormality. This will go a long way towards halving the number of cancer cases detected every year in Côte d’Ivoire, between 15 000 and 20 000 according to the World Health Organisation.
Last year, a flash mob was organised by the web community. No one knows what they will do this year. Whatever they end up doing however, combining the web with other more traditional methods, bearing in mind the 51% illiteracy rate, with the rate of illiteracy being higher among women, will help spread the news more effectively.