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Be on guard against breast cancer, Poon urges women
Published on: Wednesday, September 11, 2019
By: Ottey Peter

KOTA KINABALU: Women in the State are urged to keep an eye out for breast cancer even if there are no early signs of the disease, said State Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister, Datuk Frankie Poon Ming Fung.

Poon, who launched the iBreastExam and the iBreastExam Digital Breast Health Initiative at the KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital here, Tuesday, hoped it could help reduce the overall healthcare cost including treatment as well as rehabilitative and palliative care.

He said breast cancer is the number one type of cancer affecting women in Sabah, claiming the lives of hundreds of women each year. It also affected the socio-economic environment in the State.

“The most crucial issue is that more than 52 per cent of the women affected by the disease are detected late and, thus, in the advanced stage of the disease.

“Early diagnosis and treatment had been shown to significantly improve survival rate with stage I and II of five-year survival rate ranging from 80 to 90 per cent. Late detection brings the five-year survival rate to 60 per cent for stage III and around 20 per cent for stage IV. 

“Our goal is to ensure better survival rates for breast cancer patients so that one day, we will be at par with developed nations.”

Poon said women are a vital socio-economic resource for Sabah, thus, their health needs focus and attention by everyone including the policy makers.

He said the women workforce is critical in driving the nation’s progress and economic prosperity. Great efforts are needed to improve public awareness on breast cancer, so they get screened early and regularly.

The iBreastExam Digital Breast Health Initiative is a collaborative project between the State Health Department and private sectors such as AP Bioresources Sdn Bhd (APBIO), KPJ Sabah and Medisinar Clinic and Surgery, with the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Persatuan Ibu Tunggal Kebangsaan Malaysia (PITKM) Sabah. It aims to improve earlier detection rates by reaching out to its members as well as members of the B40 community.

The iBreastExam is a World Health Organization (WHO) recognised innovative health technology device that enables health workers to identify non-palpable breast lumps in just a few minutes, without pain or radiation.

More than 200 people from public hospitals and agencies, corporates, insurance companies and NGOs attended the launch.

Meanwhile, Poon lauded the collaborative efforts for pioneering the way towards Health 4.0, revolutionising healthcare in Sabah.

Through the efforts, he said, a cost-effective breast screening programme can be a reality in Sabah. 

“The iBreastExam is a digital health product that helps in the early detection of breast cancer. I am proud to see Sabah leading the way with the public, private sectors and NGOs working together to advance healthcare in Sabah.

“Every woman is important and deserves effective breast screening. With this initiative, I believe we would lead the way with the latest in digital breast health,” he said.

 



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