The call for men to act

  • Health
  • Sunday, 31 Oct 2010

Advocating for male support of breast cancer screening for women.

PFIZER (Malaysia) and the National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) have combined forces to launch the MenCare Corporate Programme, a critical component of the MenCare initiative, which aims at advocating for MenCare policies to be incorporated in the government, corporate, and community agencies.

The NCWO MenCare Initiative, a collaboration between Pfizer and NCWO, is an advocacy programme which endeavours to encourage men to support breast cancer screening for the women in their lives, with the ultimate goal of reducing morbidity and mortality associated with breast cancer.

The programme’s first phase in 2006 concentrated on the production of a training manual and handbook for service providers to engage men to be more aware about breast health and breast disease. It’s second phase, MenCare 2007, involved regional workshops to increase the number of advocates throughout the country.

The MenCare Corporate Programme is the third phase of the initiative, and aims to help incorporate MenCare Policies in the corporate sector. This outreach programme is conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, which is lending its full support to engage and gain the support of the husbands, fathers, and other members of the male community to increase the awareness and uptake of screening of breast cancer amongst women.

Datuk Ramani Gurusamy, deputy president of NCWO, said: “Awareness, understanding, and support from the senior personnel of government agencies, corporations, and the community to take action to introduce and integrate policies, regulations, resources, and programmes for male support of breast screening services goes a long way for a better quality of life for Malaysian women, and a better chance for those fighting the disease.

“NCWO is pleased to partner Pfizer Malaysia in the MenCare project and we will not rest on our laurels but continue to push for working towards a better quality of life for Malaysian women, while engaging Malaysian men.”

Datuk Ramani explained further that the MenCare Advocacy Programme is a three-year endeavour to enlist male staff in key positions in the government, corporate, and community sectors to consider policies and regulations in the workplace that promote male support of breast cancer screening and treatment.

Incorporation of MenCare Policies would suggest specific breast cancer screening benefits as part of the medical/health insurance package offered by the employers within the workplace, a formal procedure that allows time-off for male staff to provide support for women for breast cancer screening and promotion of breast cancer awareness for both sexes.

According to GLOBOCAN 2008, an International Agency for Research on Cancer, there were 4,485 new cases of breast cancer reported in Malaysia in 2008. The continuous increase in breast cancer cases is alarming and early detection is crucial to prevent any untimely death related to breast cancer.

However, in Malaysia, early detection of breast cancer is still low, with only 46.9% of women reported having some form of breast cancer examination, and among the rural women, the rates are even lower.

The staggering incidence of breast cancer cases in Malaysia leads to the need to increase the awareness of breast cancer, its prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Research shows that women are more likely to go for screening and get diagnosed and treated for breast cancer if the men in their lives are supportive, an important factor as early diagnosis and treatment leads to improved recovery and survival rate.

Recognising the importance of male support for breast cancer, NCWO in partnership with Pfizer Malaysia has championed the cause to reach out to the male community and seek their involvement to encourage the women in their lives to go for breast cancer screening, and supporting them during diagnosis and treatment.

“Pfizer Malaysia has been a dedicated MenCare partner from its inception in 2006. Our collaboration with NCWO is a reflection of our corporate mission, ‘Working Together for a Healthier World’. Through the MenCare Project. we reach out to thousands of men and women via workshops, testimonials and other awareness programmes.

“We know that MenCare has produced both positive and meaningful results for many individuals. The MenCare Corporate Programme is an important platform that demonstrates employers are committed to the health and wellbeing of their staff, and we hope for more companies to participate in the coming months, so that MenCare will become a movement in its own right and a concept that is adopted across all corporate, government and non-government bodies,” said Angel Choi, managing director for Pfizer Malaysia/Brunei.

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