Focus on cancer prevention, govt told

HARARE - World Health Organisation (WHO) has challenged the Zimbabwean government to focus on cancer prevention as the disease wreaks havoc in communities.

David Okello, WHO’s country representative, said the situation was getting out of control and demanded more efforts towards averting new cases.

“Cancers are becoming a major public health problem in Africa. If you look at the data from the cancer registry, over the years things are really getting out of control,” he said.

He was speaking during the handover ceremony of information technology equipment worth $70 000 to the Zimbabwe Cancer Registry’s (ZCR).

“Yes we need to treat cancers but I want to emphasise on preventive measures, treatment perhaps its too late,” Okello said.

WHO is ZCR’s major partner with the relationship dating back to 1990. According to Okello, the latest donation includes computers, printers and special software meant to replace the “dilapidated” equipment which the organisation donated in 2008.

ZCR’s latest statistics reveal that 1 700 people who succumb to the disease while at least 6 000 new cases are recorded annually. With treatment cost prohibitive and cumbersome, cancer is the third cause of death in Africa.

Government launched the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) vaccine last year. The vaccine which is being piloted among girls under the age of 10 years until 2016 seeks to prevent cervical cancer being the most prevalent. One in every three cancer patients in Zimbabwe has cervical cancer.

Okello said Zimbabwe should work towards reducing cigarette consumption — being among the top triggers of cancer worldwide.

“I’m talking about smoking; I’m not talking about growing tobacco. Smoking is bad for our health,” he said.

The ZCR, through WHO’s efforts, has become a model for countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Seychelles, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana with knowledge on cancer registration.

Rudo Makunike Mutasa, ZCR chairperson, said the country’s cancer management strategy must be guided by scientific data.

“We will not disappoint. In fact efforts are already in place, we really want to be a real national cancer registry in line Health ministry’s 2014 and 2018 cancer strategic plan. It has been said and it’s that you can only control what you know,” she said.

Mike Chirenje, a cancer expert, appealed to WHO for a grant dedicated to nurturing upcoming cancer experts as the current team is now largely in their “twilight” zone.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.