Govt ratchets up fight against cancer 

Source: Govt ratchets up fight against cancer | The Herald

Govt ratchets up fight against cancer
Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga

Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter

Acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga says the Government is stepping up efforts in confronting cancer to minimise its effects on the citizenry.

Zimbabwe’s health system has won several international plaudits for the way it has responded to the global Covid-19 pandemic and measures are now afoot for the same response to cancer.

This follows worrying statistics: 80 percent deaths of children diagnosed with cancer in developing countries contrasted to just 20 percent in developing countries.

In Zimbabwe, approximately 40 percent of persons diagnosed with cancer in Harare, Chitungwiza and Bulawayo in 2017 succumbed to the disease and the Acting President noted that this has to end.

“The Ministry of Health and Child Care, through the Directorate of Non-Communicable Diseases, is focussing on coordinating the setting up of structures and implementation of programmes that ensure the mortality and morbidity from the increasing burden of cancer and other Non-Communicable Diseases, is addressed,” he said.

The Acting President was speaking on the occasion of the commemoration of the World Cancer Day in Harare, running under the theme ‘close the care gap.’

Zimbabwe has already put shoulders to the wheel to ensure equitable access of healthcare for all of sufficient quality.

Acting President Chiwenga said: “Zimbabwe has put in place various initiatives to close the care gap to reduce inequity in access to cancer services, in line with the Union for International Cancer Control.”

These include local training of oncologists, oncology nurses and epidemiologists in Zimbabwe, at the Parirenyatwa School of Nursing and College of Health Sciences to equip healthcare professionals with skills and knowledge to provide cancer services.

The Mass Immunisation Programme for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), screening programmes for Cervical Cancer up to District Health Facility level, through Visual Assay with Acetic Acid (VIAC) and Human Papilloma Virus DNA testing.

“Let me take this opportunity to salute those who continue to work tirelessly to improve the landscape of cancer control in Zimbabwe,” said Acting President Mnangagwa. “It is acknowledged that more work needs to be done to “close the care gap” in the provision of cancer services.”

The Acting President said it was critical to work towards achieving the goals of the National Development Strategy 1 and the National Health Strategy 2021 to 2025 by adopting a “Whole of Government, Whole of Society” approach for Cancer Services in Zimbabwe, that leaves no one behind.

World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Alex Gasasira talked of the importance of ensuring that everyone accesses cancer care despite their income.

“The United Nations system and the World Health Organisation note with appreciation ongoing efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe to improve cancer prevention and control in the context of integrated approach,” he said.

“These include the domestic funding of health in Zimbabwe, the development of an updated national non-communicable disease strategy and updated national cancer control plan, implementation of strategies to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem.”

Dr Gasasira said they look forward to continuing working with Zimbabwe.

He pledged WHO’s support to optimise coordinated multi-sectoral action to achieve uninterrupted access to affordable, safe and effective cancer for all.

Cancer survivors who have undergone their successful treatment locally, Susan Katuruza and Busisiwe Moyo, commended the health system for helping their rehabilitation.

They implored early treatment seeking behaviour.