Tuesday, 19 March 2013

6,000 women to receive free mammograms

By Hetty Musfirah, TODAY, 18 Mar 2013

Some 6,000 women from lower-income households will be offered free mammograms under an initiative by the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

The two-year programme, offered to women aged 50 and above, will see 3,000 women getting screened for the first time. The remaining half would have been screened before and would be due for another mammogram.

The programme, known as BCF Encouragement for Active Mammograms (BEAM 15), is aimed at getting women from the lower-income group to go for regular breast cancer screening and not let cost be a deterrent.

A mammogram costs S$50 at a polyclinic, but the National Health Survey in 2010 found that women from lower-income households are less likely to go for cancer screening, with cost often cited as a reason.

“All the money they have is spent on food and taking care of the family,” said Mrs Noor Quek, President of the Breast Cancer Foundation. “And when they get older and illness is setting in, they may not also have the financial means. S$50 is a lot of money to many people and this is why we feel it is good to reach out to them — many of them don’t work.”

Some S$300,000 has been set aside for the programme, which marks the first time the foundation is using its funds to offer free mammograms.

The HPB will also be expanding its coverage of its mobile screening centre, the Mammobus, to more locations to encourage more women to come forward for breast screening.

The initiative is part of a three-year road map by the Women’s Health Advisory Committee, which was tasked to improve women’s health, and chaired by Minister of State (Health) Dr Amy Khor.

More is also being done to get employers to promote a healthy lifestyle to working women. The HPB is offering another S$5,000 under the Workplace Health Promotion Grant to encourage employers to organise women-centric events such as parenting workshops and cancer screening programmes. The current grant is S$15,000 annually. Workplaces can start using the additional funding in July. The HPB aims to reach 90 workplaces and 10,000 women by 2015.

Dr Khor, who is also Minister of State (Manpower), said the Singaporean woman today wears “many hats” — that of a mother, wife, daughter, caregiver and employee.

“Often, they look into everybody else’s welfare, while their own health is left on the back-burner,” she added.

“The enhancement to the Workplace Health Promotion Grant recognises the increasing role of women at the workplace and the need to promote a healthy lifestyle among working women so that they can better pursue their personal aspirations and cope with the demands of the family.”

No comments:

Post a Comment