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NRI to donate mobile breast cancer screening unit to Punjab

Last updated on: November 28, 2005 13:36 IST
A London-based Indian businessman plans to donate a fully equipped mobile breast cancer-screening unit to the state of Punjab in Amritsar on December 18, to help detect early stages of the disease.

Thanks to support from United Kingdom donors, the mobile unit will provide mammograms and ultrasounds and go from village to village in the state.

Paul Chawla, Chairman and founder of the Roko Cancer Appeal said in a statement Sunday night that according to estimates, about 80,000 women develop the disease in India every year.

"There is a wall of silence surrounding breast cancer not just in India but in the UK too. Women in some of our own communities are shying away from talking about an illness which can only be treated through honesty and open dialogue and this is in a society where breast cancer enjoys huge government, public and media support.

"In India, the contrast is more marked so it is our aim that with the use of the screening unit, women will be encouraged to put their health first."

Paul set up the Roko Cancer Appeal five years ago in memory of his wife who died from breast cancer. The cost for running the mobile breast cancer screening unit is estimated at 2,500 pounds a month including payment for a radiographer, a technician, a driver and a coordinator.

The charity enjoys the support of Cherie Blair, wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sarah Kennedy, wife of Liberal Democratic chief Charles Kennedy, Simon Hughes, MP, John Prescott MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Keith Vaz, MP, former minister and Baroness Amos, Cabinet Minister for Overseas Development.

In a move described by Sandra Howard, wife of Michael Howard, MP, Leader of the Conservative party, as "making a difference to the lives of thousands," it is hoped that the beast cancer screening unit would be the first of many.

Paul said, "The fact that we are able to donate the unit at all is a testament to the generosity of our UK supporters and will provide a link in strengthening the success story of Indo-Anglo partnerships."

Clara MacKay, Director of Policy and Research at Breast Cancer Care, UK, said, "The Roko Cancer Appeal is to be congratulated for its visionary approach to the breast cancer screening issue in India. Early detection is the key to successful treatment and I hope that their pioneering stance will help to improve the quality of life of those who may be at risk."

Breast Cancer Care Patron, Cherie Blair said, "For women living in the semi-urban and rural areas of India who may not have access to breast health services, the launch of the mobile breast screening unit by the Roko Cancer Appeal will give voice to those who may not have anyone else to champion their health."

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