COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the screening and treatment of non-communicable diseases such as Cancer and Diabetes as well as communicable diseases such as HIV/Aids and TB. While the lockdown bought some time to bolster health resources, it is now setting up South Africa for even greater mortality from non-COVID illnesses.
October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month and PinkDrive NPC, a significant player in the gender related cancer sector, has joined forces with the Eastern Cape Department of Health to bring critical screening to the Eastern Cape, where health care facilities require support to accommodate these additional screening services during COVID-19. Funding from Standard Bank will allow PinkDrive to take their Mobile Women’s Health Unit to provide screening and education for gender related cancers including Breast, Cervical and Prostate cancer as well as HIV/Aids, TB, Diabetic Screening and Covid-19 Screening and Testing in collaboration civil society groups and the provincial department of Health to the indigent communities of the Amathole District in the Eastern Cape.
Pearl Poolo, CSI manager at Standard Bank says “we are grateful and honoured to be partnering with PinkDrive to ensure people receive vital health services and screening. Covid-19 has meant many people could not receive the usual health screening they need. PinkDrive is closing this gap and reaching people in the Eastern Cape with the services they need”.
The Hon MEC for health in the Eastern Cape, Ms Sindiswe Gomba, visited the Kwazakhele CHC in Nelson Mandela Metro where the PinkDrive initiative funded by UNFPA and the Department of Health started a week long cancer screening and early detection initiative that will be run across the Metro to show the Provincial Department’s support for this initiative and to assist in mobilizing communities to present themselves for cancer screening in order to promote early detection that could assist with lifesaving interventions at an early stage.
The Metro is the second District in the Province where this program is offered this year. PinkDrive was in Alfred Nzo during the previous week. The hon MEC further indicated that the Department wish to roll this out across the province and was able to ensure that a third District, Amathole, is added to the program this year.
MEC further indicated that the Department should utilize its internal expertise and resources to ensure that cancer screening for both men and women are not limited to the month of October but that it becomes institutionalized within the Department as a routine service.
The Eastern Cape Province is mostly rural and widespread and although the health facilities are available, some communities find it difficult to reach these services due to social-economic and transport issues. PinkDrive’s Mobile Women´s Health Unit in the form of a fourteen-ton truck is described as a Doctor´s Room on Wheels. The unit boasts a state-of-the-art gynaecology area for pap smears and examinations, a reception area for administration and a radiology area. The unit turns into a Cancer Powerhouse that enables PinkDrive to simultaneously tackle the two most prevalent female cancers – breast and cervical cancer by offering cervical cancer screening, mammograms, clinical breast examinations and for the men, Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer.
About 105,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in South Africa every year. It is estimated that due to lockdown a third of people are not reaching cancer screening services. If a third — or about 35,000 people — are not picked up through screening and referred for treatment, the cost of COVID-19 will be far greater than the number of people who die from it.
PinkDrive will be providing gender-based cancer screening services, as well as HIV/Aids, TB, and Diabetic Screening, Covid-19 Screening and Testing in the Amathole District from the 28 October to 3 November. PinkDrive will be partnering with the Provincial Department of Health to provide health services at Ngqamakwe Community Health Centre, Butterworth Gateway and hospital, Idutywa Community Health Centre, Peddie Nompumelelo Hospital and Middledrift Community Health Centre.
PinkDrive’s unerring mission mirrors that of the National Department of Health (NDoH) to prolong lives through the prevention of illness, disease, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and to consistently improve the health care delivery system by focusing on access, equity, efficiency, quality and sustainability.
For more information, please contact:
CEO and Founder PinkDrive
083 460 6146
Eastern Cape Department of Health
060 564 5389