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Empowering Rural Folks On Cancer

04 May 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of doctors, nurses, oncologists and volunteers will visit rural areas to educate people about cancer.

The disease is the third biggest killer of Malaysians.

Empowered, a non-profit organisation, will reach those who do not have ready access to information on the disease.

"We will travel to rural areas and provide information on the symptoms and how to detect the disease. Many cancers can be cured if they are detected early," said founder and president Dr Christina Ng after the organisation's launch on Thursday.

Ng, a consultant oncologist, said Empowered would give greater access to information on the disease, cancer screening and early treatment. Dr Ng said: "Many rural people either cannot afford treatment or are ignorant about it. Anyone who wishes to volunteer his time and knowledge is welcome." On Wednesday, 36 volunteers from government hospitals received training to form the first support group to work with cancer patients.

This group will become mentors to future trainers, who will be assigned to a number of cases.

At the launch, Health Ministry medical development division deputy director Dr Rohaizat Yon represented director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican and read his speech.

Dr Ismail said networking between the public and private sectors and non-governmental organisations was important to control cancer.

Statistics showed that colo-rectal cancer was the most common, followed by breast cancer, leukaemia and lung cancer, he said.

"Despite numerous awareness campaigns, screening for cancer, especially among women, is not widespread enough," Dr Ismail said.

Dr Rohaizat said: "The ministry has strengths and groups like this have different strengths.

"NGOs like this one are more in touch with the people and this can help the ministry to reach out."