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CANSA Creates Value for Workplaces


Work commitments can make it difficult for many employees to find the time to have medical check-ups and to explore what steps they can take to improve their health. The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) has developed a comprehensive employee wellness programme that brings health and cancer screening, as well as health-boosting advice to the workplace. 

The spotlight is placed on corporate wellness every year in the first week of July. Corporate Wellness Week creates awareness of the benefits of a healthy work environment and how employees can improve their health through positive lifestyle changes and regular medical check-ups. CANSA has a multi-faceted approach to assist employees to lower their risk of not only cancer, but also other non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

“We know how critical the mental and physical health and wellbeing of employees are for maintaining sustainable levels of employee engagement, resilience in the face of organisational change, motivation and innovation. But we also know how valuable time is for both employees and their companies. This is why we have developed a programme that brings certain health services to the workplace,” says Lorraine Govender, CANSA’s National Manager: Health Programmes.  “Through this service, which is paid for by the employer and not the employee, we help to mitigate the challenges that many employees have of getting time off to go for medical check-ups and also advice and support on how to improve their health.”

Francinah Manyanedi attended a wellness day at a financial institution’s head office in Rivonia in May and is grateful that she had the opportunity to have a Pap smear test by CANSA. “Sister Monica was lovely and easy to talk to”, she shares. “The results I received a few days later showed that abnormal cells had been found. Sister Monica advised me not to panic and that I needed to do another test in three months’ time. I am so grateful I was able to be tested because should this be a serious thing, I will need to tackle it as early as possible.”

A routine check by CANSA’s Nurse Martheza during the University of the Western Cape’s wellness day last year, started Leonore Schuller on a journey through one of the most difficult periods in her life. “A lump was detected which led to a diagnosis of cancer. I was swiftly referred to Groote Schuur Hospital’s breast clinic for further evaluation and treatment."

“Thanks to CANSA and the care and compassion of Nurse Martheza, I felt supported and reassured from the moment I was first examined. Nurse Martheza not only provided me with crucial information about my diagnosis and treatment options but also offered emotional support,” added Schuller.

When her workplace held a CANSA wellness day in June, Ailsle Roux didn’t let the opportunity pass her by. “Unfortunately, I walked away with a referral letter. This would be the third time I potentially would be diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, this time the follow-up examination showed I was cancer free. A workplace check-up with CANSA is free, friendly, professional.”

But CANSA doesn’t just provide Lifestyle Risk Assessments for individual employees, it’s also able to combine those profiles to develop the company’s overall risk profile. This data can inform education and awareness campaigns that companies can run to assist their employees to lower their health risks.

“Employers who bring the opportunity for health and cancer screening to their employees through our Employee Wellness Programme, into the workplace, are ensuring that employees take the time to prioritise their health, states Govender.

“In turn this leads to cost saving for the employer, due to employees being healthier and more productive. It is also a means for employers to attain sustainable development goals.”

Moolmans, a mining services provider, ran a wellness campaign at its Gamsberg operation in the Northern Cape this year. “CANSA went above and beyond in ensuring that all of our employees were screened without taking time off or leaving site,” they said. “CANSA even extended their screening time to include a public holiday so that all of our employees were covered.” 

During corporate wellness days or events, employers and employees can benefit from CANSA’s educational talks and interactive exhibitions around cancer-related topics and tips to lower cancer risk, in addition to cancer screenings that CANSA offers. CANSA can run presentations or more informal talks on lowering cancer risk, related cancer topics and the top five cancers affecting men and women in South Africa, in addition to offering screening services. An exhibition table will be set up with cancer information, including leaflets and models to help demonstrate self-examination techniques.

“The importance of health risk assessments and screenings cannot be overemphasised,” according to Govender. “Cancer is a fast-growing health priority around the world. In South Africa, a country with a population of roughly 60 million people, the cancer incidence is set to double from what it is now with a projection of 220,000 new cases a year by 2030. (2021 Percept Report).

“This presents a significant opportunity to companies,” concludes Govender. “By working with CANSA to reduce the health risks of their employees, corporates are, in turn, helping to reduce South Africa’s overall cancer risk.”


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