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Successful Launch of India's First Mobile Breast Cancer Screening Unit

The Governor of Mumbai Mr. V. Krishna arranged a function for he Roko Cancer Movement at his residence in Mumbai. Dr Badwe of Tata Memorial Institute for Cancer andmany Bollywood stars, including Kiron Kher, Madhuri Bhatia attended the function.

PUNJAB – In a wonderful New Year’s gift for the women of Punjab, Amritsar provided a backdrop to a scene of great celebration and joy last month (Dec 18, 2005) following the successful launch of the MKC Trust’s Roko Cancer Appeal’s mobile breast cancer screening unit - a brand-new coach-sized fully-equipped clinic which provides free mammographies and ultrasound therapy to women (and men) who may be at risk of breast cancer.

In Delhi, on 16 December, the unit was launched by the Vice President of India at his residence. Later that day, a launch function was held attended by the Deputy British High Commissioner to India; Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi; senior Government Ministers and MPs in India and Britain, including Keith Vaz MP. Also attending were high-profile stars of Bollywood and influential VIPs from the world of science, medicine, education and technology.

The unit was seen a testament to the generosity of the British and Indian peoples who supported both the vision and the pioneering work of APS (Pal) Chawla, founder of Roko Cancer.

Mr Chawla, known as Pal, is a leading figure who promotes Indo-British relations and is recognised as a pioneer in raising cancer awareness.

Well-connected, this remarkable man lists both the Indian and UK Prime Ministers as supporters and is championed by Cherie Blair, Sandra Howard, Sarah Kennedy and other prominent supporters within the UK Government.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, one of the guests who attended the unit’s launch praised Mr Chawla for his fight against cancer.

He said: “The unit is a tribute to the fundraising of Pal Chawla. He and his family have mobilised the community to raise funds for this remarkable achievement. Many people dream of such an undertaking but few make it happen. Paul Chawla’s determination and vision have paid off.”
Cherie Blair, a voice which regularly champions women’s issues added: “The launch of the mobile breast screening unit will give voice to those who may not have anyone else to champion their health.”

Latest figures show how 80,000 women in India develop breast cancer each year. In Britain, the figure is 40,000. Experts agree that early detection is the key in the successful treatment of breast cancer so it is hoped that the new unit, launched by Paul Chawla, will further encourage women to look after their health.

A DVD produced by the Roko Cancer Appeal emphasises just that and urges women to make healthy living a priority alongside the everyday concerns of modern-day life.

Further plans include a documentary on preventing breast cancer, collaborative work with Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Care and developing a new campaign targetting black and minority ethnic women (BME) in the UK.

To support this work, MP Keith Vaz has launched The Tiffin Club, a fundraising venture which will raise money for the Roko Cancer Appeal. Cross-party MPs from around the UK are supporting the initiative and on 16 May 2006, an unprecedented Roko Cancer Day will take place exclusively at the House of Commons and follows a year in which his hard work has paid off.

Said Pal: “I am proud to provide just a small drop in the ocean. Others will will help to fill it and together we will build this campaign on behalf of the vulnerable and disadvantaged within society. I was tremendously moved by the support given in endorsing the work started. Our next stage now is to work more closely with BME communities so that they can be free from fear and encouraged to seek preventative medical help if they feel they might be at risk from breast cancer.”

According to Dr Badwe of India’s Tata Memorial Hospital, statistics of Maharashtra Western India show that one in every 25 women will develop breast cancer. In southern India, statistics show that in Madras, Tamil Nadu one in every 32 women is affected by the disease while in northern India the incidence rates are one in every 30. Latest figures show that of the 80,000 women in India who developed breast cancer the largest number was in the age group of 40-65 yrs. This has been attributed to affluence, late marriage and low breast feeding.

About the screening unit
The costs for running the mobile breast cancer screening unit is approx £3,500 a month. This pays for a radiographer, a technician, a driver and a co-ordinator. Fundraising events and sponsorship deals will help cover some of the costs along the work done by field workers from NGOs and Health Departments.

About The MKC Trust’s Roko Cancer Appeal
The word “Roko” in the charity’s title means stop and was founded five years ago by entrepreneur Paul Chawla in memory of his late wife. The aim is to support vulnerable men and women who may be at risk of the breast cancer. It also funds early detection programmes and offers support to those affected as well as their partners and families. The charity enjoys support from a large number of leading MPs including Keith Vaz whose championship of the MP-led Tiffin Club will benefit the Appeal, Sarah Kennedy, Cherie Blair, John Prescott MP and Sandra Howard.The aims of the Appeal are:

1 To offer financial support to hospitals in their palliative care and treatment of breast cancer patients
2 To help the terminally ill survive with comfort, peace and dignity
3 To offer support and practical advice to the partners and families of breast cancer patients
4 To continue working with other UK charities in raising awareness of the disease by bringing the breast health messages direct to local communities

For further information please contact Joycelyn Bruce Press Officer
The Roko Cancer Appeal mobile 07786 731 815 rokopressoffice@yahoo.com

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