First of all, I would like thank you for bringing us all together today to celebrate the pink October and to recognize the importance of women’s health in Timor-Leste.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you the work that HALIKU does to support women with breast cancer and to encourage early detection.
The women’s cancer support program known as HALIKU (I choose to get better) was established in 2014 by Kirsty Sword Gusmão together with two other survivors of breast cancer, Sra Lita Gomes and Isabel de Lima.
Upon returning to Timor-Leste in 2014 after her successful treatment for breast cancer in Melbourne, Australia, Kirsty became aware that many East Timorese women were dying unnecessarily as a result of lack of access to education and treatment facilities. She was inspired to establish HALIKU in order to increase awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer and other women’s cancers, particularly amongst our most vulnerable women.
HALIKU worked in the beginning from the offices of the Timor-Leste Medical Association located opposite Dili National Hospital. It was later integrated in 2016 into the work of the Maternal and Child Health program of Fundasaun Alola.
The objective of HALIKU is to educate people for raising awareness on the imprtance of early detection, support referral and biposy for vulnerable patients.
Traditional cultural values mean that Timorese women are often fearful and ashamed to talk about and reveal private parts of their bodies to medical professionals. HALIKU’s work focuses on breaking down these taboos and educating women about the role that early detection and timely treatment can play in saving their lives.
HALIKU had undertaken several activities including education and socialization at municipality and village level. The same activity for raising awareness had also been undertaken for several junior and senior high schools and universities. HALIKU has reached 13 municipalities of the country for raising awareness through exhibition hold by SEFOPE. In addition a half day workshop on breast cancer has been introduced into several private and government institutions including SEFOPE, Focupers, F-FDTL Naval, Faith based organizations, church and for youth groups. As a result, HALIKU has gained the total beneficiaries of seventheen thousand six hundreed and fourthy eight (17,648) people accorss the country.
Apart from that, HALIKU had also targetted local media including community radio, Televisions and newspapers to educate people on the importance of early detection and treatment. Hence it is not enough to ensure that all people are getting the information thus HALIKU has to reach the rural areas for making sure that people who are lack of acess to media are coverred by the program.
HALIKU being as a member of the National Breast Cancer Comitte based at HNGV and we often assisted the first lady ms. Cidalia nobre to socialize the information on the importance of early detection for breast cancer in Dili municipality. We hope this will continue for the benefit for the Timorese women.
In addition to education campaigns, HALIKU has also identified and referred 115 cancer patients to the national hospital. Of these, 13 have received support to get a biopsy, 18 have been assisted with transport to receive treatment and 2 have received support to acquire the medicines prescribed by their doctors. In addition, we are distributing wigs, mastectomy bras and breast prostheses to patients who have undergone chemotherapy and mastectomy surgery.
We are committed to continue the work of HALIKU in educating Timorese women in order to save lives through early detection and support for breast cancer patients in the future.
We are hoping that you will support us by caring this messages forward to your families, communities and colleagues.
Tibar, October 4, 2019
Mrs. Maria Imaculada Guterres, Acting CEO – ALOLA Foundation
HALIKU or “Hau Hili Atu Kura” which means “I choose to be healed”, has done great activities with the objective to inform people on the symptoms of cancer and contributing factors. The HALIKU team also educated its beneficiaries about conducting regular self-examinations for the early detection of breast cancer and about signs of cervical cancer through: raising awareness for community members in villgaes, mini workshop for students in from pre-secondary school, mini workshop for womens soldiers, mini workshop for church, mini workshop for men and parents as well as for Mother Support Groups. As a regular activity the HALIKU awareness raising program has been done alongside the MSG/SHIO health promotion activities within community in 12 villages across three municipalities.
From January till December, raising awareness campign in 16 villages of 3 municipalities attended by 510 people, mini workshop for parents in 12 villages in two municipalities attended by 283 people, mini workshop for men in 12 villages attended by 243 people, mini workshop for senior and junior high school in Dili attended by 88 students, mini workshop for youth attended by 129 youth, mini workshop for Christian Church attended by 47 people and workshop for women’s soldier of F-FDTL attended by 200 people, raising awareness during women’s day celebration attended by 52 people and mini workshop for Mother Support Groups in Turiscai village attended by 76 members.
One of the main activities has been to support cancer patients for treatment. In 2018 HALIKU supported transport and biopsies for 3 patients, support medication for a patient and referred 22 patients to Dili National Hospital. There have been 111 referrals in total since the HALIKU program was established in 2014. In addition, HALIKU had requested by the National Hospital to support reagent for histology Laboratory to support women’s cancer patient’s Lab examination.
On October 4, 2019, from 16:00 to 18:30, in the Tibar Bay Port Project (TBPP) was held an awareness raising ceremony for the prevention of breast cancer. This event itself is the result of a partnership between the Tibar Bay Port Project and the Alola Foundation and is part of the breast cancer awareness and prevention actions that take place around the world in October, the International Breast Cancer Prevention Month. The event which was also attended by members of the VIII Constitutional Government, representatives from TBPP gave their remarks about the reason for the ceremony organized. On the same occasion, the Acting Director of the Alola Foundation also presented about HALIKU and a program on increasing public awareness about women’s cancer. Former Republican President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão at the end of the session also gave his remarks before participating in an aerial photo session with the theme of human formation in the form of a ribbon symbol of solidarity for cancer survivors. During the ceremony a donation box was also provided to support the continuation of the Alola Foundation’s HALIKU program (Hau Hili Atu Kura from the Alola Foundation – I Choose To Heal Myself), an awareness and support program for women with cancer in Timor-Leste, which was founded in March 2014 by Kirsty Sword Gusmão, founder of the Alola Foundation and breast cancer survivor. This program aims to increase women’s awareness about breast cancer prevention, early detection and cancer treatment. At the end of the event, a pink donation box was handed over by TBPP representatives to Former Republican President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão before symbolically handed over to HALIKU representatives. From the results of this donation collection, a total of 5291.70 US dollars was collected.