Nila Moeloek expresses her determination to create better public awareness of cancer in Indonesia to Aulia R. Sungkar
With an avuncular smile, the president of the Indonesian Cancer Foundation greeted us with warm hospitality while displaying her concern over the increasing number of cancer patients across the archipelago.
“Various data published by Indonesian government and cancer foundations indicate that the number of cancer patients in Indonesia is very high. We are in alarming stage, even WHO is predicting that the number could be proliferated to reach epidemic proportions in 2030,” Nila asserts. “Seriously, we need to pay great attention when it comes to cancer control in our country.”
In addition to earning her doctoral program in medical school at the University of Indonesia, Nila took the opportunities to sharpen her knowledge such as in ophthalmology and oncology at University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and at Kobe University in Japan.
Her education background and expertise are what drive her to actively participate as a speaker and resource person in countless number of seminars and workshops in many countries throughout the globe. She has also written over hundred scientific papers and several scientific books.
That’s not it. The get-up-and-go Nila is in fact the lady wearing many hats. Besides taking the lead in the Indonesian Cancer Foundation, she chairs a number of eminent organisations such as the Indonesian Dharma Wanita and Indonesian Ophthalmologist Association. She also serves as the Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Indonesia on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Under her helm, the Indonesian Cancer Foundation is endeavoured to educate public at large to gain better understanding and care for cancer. For Nila, commemorating World Cancer Day, which falls on February 4, means taking further step to play a better role towards improving cancer control in all communities across Indonesia.
How effective is cancer control?
It’s very effective, indeed, as the implementation of cancer control includes prevention, early detection, diagnosis, rehabilitation and palliative care. Basically, the objective of cancer control is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease, and to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families.
Is cancer curable?
Yes if detected at an early stage. Despite its curable nature, cancer is the leading cause of death in developing countries like Indonesia. The high mortality rate is mainly due to lack of information about the disease. Even in advanced countries like the US, cancer still makes up one of the leading causes of death, second to heart disease. Factors that can trigger cancer include stress, overwork, diet, pollution and many more.
We conduct various cancer control programs on ten most common disease types, which are cervical cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, colorectal cancer, leukaemia, malignant trophoblast disease and malignant lymphoma. One of our outstanding portfolios is the establishment of Sasana Marsudi Husada. It’s a hostel operated since 1982 to accommodate outpatients. On the same premises, we also offer free of charge consultations, as well as treatments and Pap tests at a minimal charge. In general, our cancer control programs are conducted through corporate social responsibilities activities.
Can you share more about the CSR activities the foundation conducts?
All the activities are related to the basic components of cancer control, from prevention to treatment. One of the programs, for instance, is focused on providing free medicines to underprivileged patients with specific criteria. Another example is the foundation’s early detection campaign that comprises several focused activities, one of which is giving financial aids for early stage cervical caner patients. Recently, we collaborated with Phillips Electronics to launch the first mobile interactive application as a means of disseminating breast cancer related information.
In your own words, what are the crucial aspects needed to improve cancer control in Indonesia?
Education is indeed very crucial in instilling our people a comprehensive awareness on the disease. Living a healthy lifestyle is another thing to consider. Be careful of what you eat and drink as they may contain chemicals that cause cancer. And to make the most of our cancer control programs, we really need the active roles played by our government.
Very understood. Let’s talk a bit about your personality. What do you like doing at your leisure?
I have my fingers in many pies. Indonesian Cancer Foundation is not the only organisation I’m in charge of. But I always try to balance my work and personal life. Jogging and reading are what I like doing the most at my leisure.
How often do you travel?
A lot, but I travel mostly for work.
What are your favourite destinations?
My three best picks are Japan, Great Britain and the Netherlands. I like Japan for the country’s transportation system. I’m amazed with the city parks in Great Britain, and alleys in the Netherlands.
How about your favourite food?
I like Padang as I’m quite into spicy food. Japanese cuisine is also on the list. Regardless of my favourite dishes, I watch my daily food intake. Remember, health lifestyle can reduce cancer risk.
Published in Garuda in-flight Magazine, February 2013