AstraZeneca’s Phakamisa Programme – Khayelitsha district hospital breast cancer screening initiative

2 March 2020

Phakamisa, AstraZeneca’s access to healthcare initiative, focuses on lessening the burden of non-communicable disease (NCD) on the South African healthcare system, through the promotion of primary prevention, early detection of disease and access to care.


This week in Khayelitsha District Hospital (KDH) , in conjunction with Tygerberg Hospital Breast and Endocrine Department, Breast Course 4 Nurses  and the Breast Health Foundation, Phakamisa supported the launch of the breast screening and cancer risk assessment project for Khayelitsha female staff. The initiative provides sustainable cost-effective breast cancer screening that can be rolled our nationally, as clinical breast exams remain a critical step in early diagnosis and care. 

Rolling sessions throughout the 2-day initiative provided breast health education, cancer risk assessment and clinical breast screening to all KDH Female staff. 


In November 2021, the Phakamisa initiative welcomed the 2021 cohort of nurses commencing their Breast Course 4 Nurses at the launch event held in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The 6 months course is accredited by Stellenbosch University. The initiative forms part of a larger strategic health project to increase the number of trained Oncology Breast Nurses in all clinics and hospitals throughout the country and will support prompt referral of patients with breast conditions, therefore reducing waiting time, in line with the Clinical Guidelines for Breast Cancer Control and Management. 

The face-to-face Nurse training took place at Tygerberg Hospital, with ongoing on-site training at the respective Government Hospitals were the nurses who are undergoing the training are employed. Selected nurses from the 2021 cohort of nurses completing their Breast Course 4 Nurses training also assisted at the Khayelitsha event.   


On completion of their training the nurses will be instrumental in the establishment of regional hospital Breast Care Centres, as recommended in the Breast Cancer Policy. This will allow for effective and timeous triaging of patients with breast conditions to minimize delay in transfer to the next level of care.


Phakamisa is delivered through a three-pillared approach spanning Training, Awareness and Access, with a current focus on improving breast and prostate cancer management in the public sector.  It supports the implementation of the Department of Health’s National Cancer Campaign (NCC) launched in October 2018, in response to the alarming number of cancer cases in South Africa. The aim of the NCC is to develop multi-faceted, comprehensive and inclusive strategies to reduce the cancer burden in South Africa.


The Phakamisa Programme’s success lies in the strong collaboration between community, civil society, government and private entities working together on improving breast and prostate cancer management in the public sector and specifically address early detection of disease, promotion of primary prevention and access to care. Through public and private partnerships with multiple healthcare stakeholders we can achieve better health outcomes for patients in South Africa.