25 July 2002 Edition

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Kerry Women's Forum campaign for breast-care screening

The Kerry Women's Forum last week launched a newsletter entitled 'Speaking Out: Women in the Community'. The four-page document covers a range of issues, including health care, women in rural Ireland and the plight of carers.

The well-attended launch was addressed by project coordinator Gwen Burkard, Bantry town councillor Anne O'Leary, Kerry Sinn Féin party manager Risteárd Ó Fuaráin and Sinn Féin TD for North Kerry, Martin Ferris.

The first issue of the newsletter alerts its readers to the findings of Europa Donna, an international breast cancer campaign, which has found that due to an inadequate health care system, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in Ireland are twice as likely as their US counterparts to die. It also reports that prompt diagnosis and treatment could reduce deaths here by 20%.

Martin Ferris commended all the party members, both male and female, who compiled the document, and paid particular tribute to Gwen Burkard, who had worked tirelessly on the project.

"In the era of so-called prosperity, it is vital that society meets the needs of every person, irrespective of background or class," said Ferris. "For years, the needs of women have been neglected. Proper health care continues to be below par. Unfortunately, the health care needs of women are those that have been most neglected. The most recent update that we have received indicates that the free breast-care screening programme, 'Breast Check', will be based in Cork.

"I support the various groups like the Kerry Breast Action Group, who are demanding that 'Breast Check' be also made available in Kerry. I am also calling for the upgrading of the breast cancer unit at Tralee General Hospital."

The newsletter intends to be an open forum for the women of North Kerry to let their voices be heard, but welcomes contributions from men also.

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