A diagnosis might take up to six months, whereas one can be obtained in a space of weeks in private healthcare. Breast reconstructions are not available under public healthcare, forcing the survivor to find some way of hiding the disfigurement. The critical drug trastuzumab is classed as an unfunded mandate even in the Western Cape. Yet in the private sector, it is a prescribed minimum benefit. There are language barriers for patients, and a lack of palliative care medicines upon discharge. They also are not connected online, and cannot engage with initiatives such as Pinktober. In a country beset by gender-based violence and inequality, women’s health often is not a priority.
The remedy still lags very far behind. Since its inception in 2017, The Breast Cancer Control Policy has not been implemented anywhere in South Africa. In order to implement this policy, registered nurses have their job descriptions updated to include a primary modality of breast cancer screenings.
The COVID pandemic has set back progress even further, with care being postponed and many hospices being forced to close.