Sports, arts and culture
South Africans from all walks of life, including President Jacob Zuma, took part in the launch of the Warriors Walk for Cancer initiative led by first lady Tobeka Madiba-Zuma’s foundation.
Speaking at the launch, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, President Zuma said cancer was becoming a major public health problem, not only in the country but in Africa as well.
“The rates of breast and cervical cancer in the developing countries are rapidly increasing due to the impact of risk factors associated with changing lifestyles,” said President Zuma.
He said women in Africa suffer in many cases from non-responsive health services and also suffer from the fear and stigma associated with cancer. “Women suffer from being discriminated against by their communities, ostracised by their partners or husbands and painful deaths from cancer.”
He noted that beyond government, civil society initiatives were also helpful in raising awareness and providing support to women. The Tobeka Madiba-Zuma Foundation’s Annual Warriors Walk for Cancer contributes to raising awareness about cancer.
President Zuma said for most families, the walk is about more than just raising money or awareness.
“Let us remember that cancer is not about statistics, it is about people, families, and communities. It is about our loved ones.
“The walk is to honour a loved one lost to the disease, to celebrate another who survived and to support those who continue to fight against it…this walk will provide a platform to talk to women and disseminate information but also inform them about the right lifestyle choices,” said the President.
Most cancers are a result of lifestyle choices such as bad eating, smoking, alcohol abuse, among others. President Zuma urged people to take responsibility for their health and help government in the fight against disease.
“We cannot act irresponsibly and smoke, drink alcohol, not exercise and put on excess weight. If we do so, we place our lives at risk for the early onset of these non- communicable diseases so largely preventable.”
President Zuma said citizens needed to meet government half way in attempts to strengthen preventive measures, re-emphasising that “prevention is better than cure”.
“My wish is to see us all come together to support and empower each other. South Africans - and South African women in particular - have a generosity of spirit that I am yet to feel anywhere else in the world,” he added.