“Early Diagnosis Saves Lives…” – Fatima Bio Stresses

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First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio

During the commemoration of World Cancer Day held at the Bintumani Conference Hall at Aberdeen in Freetown on 4th February 2019, the First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio, told the audience that only diagnosis can save lives and called on the Government to ensure that a cancer treatment centre is established in the country.
The event was graced by President Bio, Vice President Juldeh Jalloh, members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corp, MPs, Ministers and a host of development partners and health stakeholders. Madam Bio explained how she was able to get international attention to the plight of cancer patients in Sierra Leone during an international conference she attended overseas. She explained that because of the absence of cancer diagnosis machines, medical expertise and the necessary facilities for the treatment of cancer, 70% of people who have the disease die of it.
The First Lady further disclosed that 10 Doctors will soon be leaving the country for further studies on cancer, and on their return they will boost the country’s ability to handle the disease. These doctors are being sponsored by her Foundation ( Fatima Bio Foundation) to study in India and Egypt. She then introduced the doctors to the audience and admonished them to take their studies very seriously and return to the country to help their compatriots.
Madam Bio further unveiled a blue print of the type of standard hospital that she is calling on the Government to build in the country. This hospital will not only serve Sierra Leoneans, but will serve citizens from the neighbouring countries of Guinea and Liberia. The hospital, she stated will not only be for cancer treatment, but will embrace all types of ailments. She stressed that after independence the country’s hospital has not changed and it is now time to get a modern facility with all the necessary equipment to handle all types of diseases. She stressed that the construction of a cancer treatment and diagnosis centre is urgent.
She singled out Dr. Owiss Koroma for an award, which she said he deserves as the only pathologist in the country with over 30 years’ experience and an ardent campaigner against the disease. The plaque was officially handed over to the pathologist for his service by the President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio.
Giving the Keynote address, President Bio gave harrowing figures of cases of cancer recorded in the country. He said 3,000 people are diagnosed every year with cancer and out of this number, 2,200 of them die. He stressed that 900 of the 2,200 are male whilst 1,300 are female. This is so because the majority of them do not have the finance to pay for overseas treatment and the country lacked the facility and expertise to deal with such cases. He further recalled that during his campaign he promised to develop the human capital and praised the First Lady for taking this venture to fund 10 doctors to do further studies (specialized courses). This move, his government will complement. Treatment from all diseases must be made available, accessible and affordable to all Sierra Leoneans, he added.
He called for the intensification of awareness campaign, which he said should start now, if the war against the disease is to be won. President Bio further disclosed that a diagnosis centre and a Radiotherapy unit is going to cost the country $19.8 billion at an interest rate of 1.7% over a 10 year period. Sierra Leoneans deserve better healthcare service delivery.
Other speakers made similar statements and called for awareness raising campaign across the nation. Passionate appeals were made by 2 surviving cancer patients, Madam Simingie Mondeh and Kadija Konneh. A gift was given to the First Lady by the Cancer Society as a token of their appreciation for taking onboard their course.
A skit about cancer and a video of the blueprint of the First Lady’s Hospital Complex was displayed. The ceremony was climaxed by the vote of thanks offered by Kadija Konneh, a cancer survivor.

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