It’s difficult to say something about the campaigns to fight breast cancer in Tanzania without mentioning ‘MEWATA’, the acronym for Medical Women Association of Tanzania—more so, the champions of the association, such as Dr Subilaga Kasesela-Kaganda who passed away this week.
Dr Kaganda breathed her last on Wednesday, May 17th in Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, India where she was receiving treatment.
Now, as condolences continue pouring in, some of her colleagues are mourning the death of the medic, as they recall memories of the role she played in fighting a disease that would later take her life.
One of her colleagues is Dr Ellen M.Senkoro, the CEO of Benjamin W. Mkapa Foundation (BMF) who says, “We championed breastcancer program since 2000 as MEWATA members, not knowing it will come to affect our own, Subi. Trust [me] she is in a better place now.” Dr Senkoro says this in a tweet as she mourns the late woman doctor.
On the official MEWATA website, a statement coming from the women doctors’ group, announcing the passing of Dr Kaganda, says, “Dr Kaganda was a doctor who devoted her life to helping Tanzanian women. She coordinated successful screening programs for breast cancer from the year 2005 until the time of her death.”
“The screening programs [which Dr Kaganda championed], opened a new chapter in the fight against breast and cervical cancer in women across Tanzania,’’ reveals a statement which further explains the late doctors’ contribution in the country’s public health sector.
At the time of her death, she was MEWATA’s Secretary General. But she also worked as a public health specialist with the Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS) and Chairperson of HIV Prevention Technical Working Committee.
A family statement which was circulated to the media shows that Dr Kaganda was buried in Dar es Salaam, but her death and burial leaves behind a legacy of a relentless fight against breast cancer by women doctors, under MEWATA—an organization that she founded, alongside other medics.
It is estimated that over 508,000 women died in 2011 due to breast cancer worldwide and in Tanzania, cases of the disease have increased steadily from 526 in the year 2011 to 742 in 2015, according to data obtained from the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI).