Bhubaneswar: On the occasion of the World Cancer Day on February 4th, various awareness and cancer screening activities were carried out by the Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Bhubaneswar. A team of doctors and paramedical staff celebrated the day at the Community Health centre (CHC) Mendhasala, which is the rural training centre of AIIMS Bhubaneswar, and Kantabada, which is one of the villages served by the CHC.
The AIIMS team and the Medical Officer in charge of the CHC delivered health talks for the public visiting the hospital. To grab the attention of the masses, a solo performance by a paramedical staff member, dressed up as the ‘Karkatasur’ (Sankrit for ‘cancer demon’), rendered health education among the hospital visitors regarding the risk of cancer due to usage of substances such as tobacco, betel leaf, gutkha, etc. All the patients were screened for oral cancer, while the female patients were screened for carcinoma breast through clinical breast examination. Also, the female patients were taught to conduct Self-Breast Examination (SBE). The AIIMS team also held an awareness rally along with the Medical Officer in charge and the CHC staff in and around the hospital premises.
Another awareness rally was carried out along with the frontline healthcare workers and the Sarpanch in the village of Kantabada. This was followed by a health education session for the villagers in the presence of the Sarpanch. The team members also organised a session in the Kantabada Anganwadi Centre for the female community members. The focus was to educate them about Self-Breast Examination and the common signs and symptoms of cancer. The public was also educated about the treatability of cancer, and the need and means for screening.
The theme for the World Cancer Day this year was ‘I can and I will’. Therefore, a special emphasis was given on encouraging the public to take their health in their own hands by adopting healthier lifestyle and dietary choices. As compared to the urban areas, the population in the rural areas is less aware of cancer and the need for cancer screening. Hence, there is a need for such behaviour-change communication activities to raise awareness, educate, as well as empower the communities to fight the war against cancer.