THE First Lady, ‘Maesaiah Thabane has been warned against engaging in any scandalous behaviour that could bring the Forum of the African First Ladies against Cervical, Breast and Prostate cancer into disrepute.
Ms Thabane, who assumed the chair of the Forum at the 12th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancers in Africa Conference (SCCA) in Maseru this week, was warned that she risked being fired for errant behaviour.
The warning was delivered by the founder of the Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation, Princess Nikky Onyeri, who hails from Nigeria. The SCCA conference was organised in partnership with the Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation.
The warning comes barely a week after Ms Thabane was involved in a physical altercation with a Ha Tšolo (Maseru) woman at Maseru Private Hospital. Ms Thabane allegedly beat up the woman, ’Manthatisi Mabuthile, after a misunderstanding over the woman’s sister who was hit by one of the First Lady ’s office cars which was transporting her staff from a cancer awareness road show that was held in preparation for the SCCA.
The First Lady’s office has nonetheless denied that she started the fight. Her alleged victim, ‘Manthatisi Mabuthile, nonetheless insist that she did.
The SCCA conference which was held under the theme, ‘Making a difference in women, men and children’s lives’, began on Sunday and ended yesterday.
Ms Thabane was made chairperson of the Forum of African First Ladies against Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancers at the official opening ceremony of the chair of the SCCA in Maseru on Monday.
It was then that Princess Onyeri warned Ms Thabane against abusing her new position to undermine and disrespect her fellow African first ladies during her one-year term.
Princess Onyeri told Ms Thabane that her new position did not make her any superior to other first ladies and should always remember that all first ladies were equal.
Ms Thabane was further told that errant behaviour would be punished by dethronement.
“We don’t want the office of the chairpersonship to be put to shame and if there is any scandal or anything we will withdraw the chairpersonship,” Princess Onyeri said.
Princess Onyeri also informed Ms Thabane that it was mandatory for her to always consult the Forum’s directors before making any decisions on behalf of the Forum.
Princess Onyeri further said that Ms Thabane will be expected to frequently travel around the world to mobilise resources for the fight against cancer in Africa, adding that they hoped that she would not make excuses to avoid fulfilling her responsibilities.
“We hope that you will not turn us down and tell us that you are very busy,” Princess Onyeri said.
On her part, Ms Thabane expressed her delight on assuming the chair of the Forum.
She pledged to work tirelessly to equip Africans with knowledge, improve health services as well as establish and equip the African countries with cancer centres to provide good care for patients on the continent.
“In the African continent I will also make efforts to increase public awareness campaigns, advocacy and public education. I will encourage our (African) nations to screen early for cancer and to mobilise resources.
“I will work closely with my fellow first ladies, the forum of parliamentarians and the women’s caucuses and other local and international partners to beat cancer,” Ms Thabane said.
Ms Thabane noted that cases of cancer were on the rise in Lesotho and they were fuelled by the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS as well as the lack of awareness among the citizens.
She said Lesotho would embark on a campaign to raise cancer awareness and to mobilise funds to not only build treatment facilities but also strengthen current and future interventions aimed at defeating cancer.
Ms Thabane said Lesotho had made progress in the fight against cancer, adding that the government had already drafted the Radiation Protection Agency Bill which will culminate in the establishment of a specialised agency that will oversee the operation of a cancer treatment centre.
“Cancers are causing more than eight million deaths worldwide annually and cancer kills more people than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Recognising that cancer is no longer only the problem of the developed world, African countries need to invest significantly in making cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment facilities and services available for their population.
“Most importantly we need to work relentlessly towards creating awareness among our people so that the effort to provide adequate medical services is backed with effective preventive measures as well as early diagnosis and treatment which factors significantly in reducing the number of deaths caused by cancer.
“My country took the challenges posed by the growing burden of cancer very seriously and started taking concrete measures under a harmonised national framework led by Ministry of Health. The establishment of the National Cancer Control Steering Committee, the upcoming launch of our National Cancer Control Plan as well as our achievement in making cervical cancer screening and treatment services available in all health centres in the country are among the concrete steps we have taken. We are also in the process of establishing National Cancer treatment Centre in Maseru,” Ms Thabane said.