Cancer advocacy budget wins plaudits

HARARE - Government has won plaudits for allocating funds for cancer advocacy in the 2014 National Budget.

Itai Rusike, Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director, said the allocation was a positive development.

“A new line item, Cancer Advocacy has been allocated $500 000,” Rusike said in a post-budget analysis, describing it as a positive development in government’s latest financial plan.

Junior Mavu, Cancer Association of Zimbabwe (Caz) general manager, said the country will have to maintain the momentum in the fight against cancer.

“It is a good start for the country,” Mavu said.

“Cancer is killing a lot of people. We however, hope more funds will continue to be availed in the future.”

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, in his 2014 budget, allocated $337 million to the Health and Child Care portfolio, and a separate envelope for $500 000 for Cancer Advocacy.

According to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry, at least 5 000 people are diagnosed with general cancer every year while cervical cancer accounted for 15 percent of all cancer deaths in 2010.

Despite the ravaging effects of cancer in a country where treatment costs are a top-line ripple for most patients, stakeholders felt the scourge was not being given the attention it deserved.

Mavu said 100 percent decentralisation of services was the best way to curb the disease.

“We applaud government for embarking on decentralising cancer services,” she said.

“We do not want a situation where we celebrate Harare successes while a lot of people in other cities and rural areas are suffering.

“Total decentralisation of testing services will help a lot in early diagnosis and treatment.”

She said the Harare population was responding laudably to cancer screening, evidence that awareness campaigns were being received well.

“Since Caz started screening cervical and prostate cancer in May and July last year respectively, the turn up of people has been very good. Our 10 slots per day are normally fully booked.

“Though the cases testing positive are lesser in percentage than negative ones, they are more than enough to worry the country,” she said.

Cancer causing factors include polluted air, dirty drinking water, alcohol and tobacco.

Chemotherapy costs from $100 and $1 000 per cycle depending on the cancer stage while every patient may need a minimum of six cycles and a maximum of 12. Radiotherapy costs between $3 000 and $4 000.

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