Shirley Joy and mammography machine

Shirley Joy (left) was a happy woman on Wednesday last week when the new Morocco Ambassador, Karim Medrek (right) who arrived in Vanuatu with Mrs Medrek, assured her that her dream will come true in October this year.

The Ni-Vanuatu woman whose idea was for Vanuatu to have its own mammography machine for women to make diagnostic screening for breast cancer was very delighted when she got assurance that the machine she negotiated will arrive in two months’ time.

Mrs Shirley Joy has surprisingly learnt from a friend on Tuesday this week that the mammography machine she had targeted while she was with her husband and former Vanuatu Ambassador in Brussels, Roy Mickey Joy, was mentioned by the President of the Republic, Moses Tallis Obed, in his speech when he welcomed the new Ambassador of Morocco, Karim Medrek, at the State House.

The new Ambassador was invited by the Director General (DG) of Trade, Tourism and Industry, Roy Mickey Joy, for a brief discussion last week on Wednesday afternoon at the conference room of the ministry.

The DG wanted to brief the new Ambassador about some needs he wants Morocco to assist in and one of them is the mammography machine.

It was during that meeting that the new Morocco diplomat assured all present that funds were available.

“You have to identify the machine.

“In October when a delegation from Morocco will come here, they will bring the machine.”

Mr. Joy and the new Ambassador are good friends as the Ministry of Trade’s Director General had served as Vanuatu Ambassador in Brussel, Belgium, from 2012 to 2017.

During his tenure, Mr Joy was also appointed to represent Vanuatu in Morocco.

That’s when he come across the man who years later will become the Ambassador accredited to Vanuatu.

During their time in Brussels, the Vanuatu Ambassador’s spouse had her aims and thought it was time to achieve some of the aims through these opportunities, especially with the good connections they had with people working at the high level, in public and private sectors, in many countries in Europe.

When they came across someone like Karim Medrek and many more from Morocco, Mrs Joy thought this was the opportunity to achieve this aim to get a mammography machine for women in her country.

She was instrumental in the setting up of Vanuatu Breast Cancer Support Group which is still active today.

Asked how she come up with the idea to aim for such an expensive machine, Mrs Joy, who used to be the Editor of the Government owned newspaper Vanuatu Weekly/Hebdomadaire, said she was alarmed and thought that there must be something to prevent breast cancer when her cousin sister gave her last words before she drew he last breath: “Mi stap go be plis mekem sua se yufala ol famili i no kasem sik ia”. (“I am going but please make sure this sick will not affect one of you in the family”).

Shirley’s cousin is singer, Alcina Garae Charley’s late mother, Ghislaine Garae from Mele, married to Len Garae, the media personality, a longtime journalist in print media currently working as freelance journalist for Daily Post.

Ghislaine had breast cancer and lost the battle against it in 2002.

Mrs. Joy strongly aimed to have the mammography machine for her country.

With the support of her husband while they were in Brussels, requests were made to many foreign Embassies in Europe’s capital.

Morocco was the only one that gave the favorable answer to this request.

A letter from the Government of Morocco was sent to the Vanuatu diplomat in Brussels, asking for the identification of the machine in either New Zealand or Australia for Morocco to buy to reduce freight costs.

In 2016, Mrs. Joy let her Vanuatu Breast Cancer Support Group know that the Government of Morocco will be going to fund the project for Vanuatu. Sadly, when the project was in its final stage, Roy Micky Joy’s contract was terminated by the Salwai led-government.

With regrets, Shirley Joy said “If we were still in Brussel, the mammography machine would already be in Vanuatu”.

But when she was informed that President Moses Tallis Obed made special mention to this machine when he welcomed the new Morocco Ambassador on Tuesday, she knew that the aim of getting a machine would be achieved.

It was reported that a second hand mammography is already in the country but Mrs Joy is adamant that Vanuatu needs a new one.

“We need a new one, fresh from the factory,” she said.

Ambassador Karim Medrek is based in Canberra and he will facilitate the project to make sure Mrs Joy’s aim is achieved.

Vanuatu really needs a new mammography machine as the number of women affected by breast cancer reportedly increases year after year.

Ni-Vanuatu women that have breast cancer find it difficult to go for treatment overseas because of the high cost.

Mammography screening is a specific type of breast imaging that uses low-dose x-rays to see inside the breasts to detect cancer early before women experience symptoms and when it is most treatable.

According to Mrs Joy, the price for a mammography machine in Australia when the first identification was made four years ago was Vt46 million.

Today, the price may vary between Vt48 million and Vt50 million.

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