BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
YESTERDAY marked the end of breast cancer awareness month with activists saying that amid the declarations and pledges made throughout the month, nothing has changed as patients continue to relive harrowing experiences.
In a heart-breaking post during the weekend, Adriana Rutendo Mafukidze, a radiology therapist from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals shared the helplessness of cancer patients due to lack of equipment and resources for treatment of the malignant disease.
“I can’t sleep. I need help. I keep seeing those angry faces when I close my eyes. Angry cancer patients. They literally would have beaten us up again yesterday as we dismissed them again this week without getting their radiation treatment,” wrote Mafukidze in a social media post.
“The machine has been going down every afternoon due to heating issues among others. Well, they have every right to be angry. Some of them by 4am, they will be waiting on the queue. Reminds me of the Biblical stirring of the waters and whoever is first to jump in.. Some have come back from as far as Bulawayo. They just want to complete their daily treatment sessions and go back home to their families.”
Mafukidze said due to inadequate facilities, they had to consider children first; the elderly patients, those on stretchers and wheelchairs, and then the rest of the patients.
She said there was no point for cancer awareness campaigns when at the end of the chain patients have to be turned away from hospitals due to lack of equipment.
“What is the point of raising awareness when at the end of the day, I have to dismiss patients because the linear accelerator keeps breaking down,” she said.
Mafukidze urged the corporate world to consider sponsoring radiotherapy services in communities to alleviate the plight of patients.
Her post generated public outcry with many citizens urging government to fund cancer programmes with the same commitment it has shown for HIV and Aids programmes.
Last week, Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga told MPs during a pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls that there was need for Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to introduce sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to fund the country’s dilapidated health sector.
Meanwhile, November is health awareness month.
The Cancer Association of Zimbabwe (CAZ) said it would focus on prostate cancer, which has always been overshadowed by breast cancer.
“We are kindly appealing to you, this year, to help us paint the nation blue as we raise awareness of prostate cancer. Men must grow a moustache for the month of November and compete with friends and colleagues and make it fun.
“If you are not able to grow a moustache, support the initiative. We have self-adhesive moustaches, blue ribbons and blue wrist bands for sale,” CAZ said in a statement.