It will be mandatory for Zimbabweans in certain age groups to be screened for cancers as a prevention and control strategy for the world’s second leading cause of deaths under plans now being considered and worked on.
The improved programme of screening is part of a wide range of action being taken by the Government to ensure cancer patients get quality care as early as possible.
Health and Child Care Minister, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga told the virtual World Cancer Day commemoration yesterday that screening and early treatment, coupled with the upgrade of Zimbabwe’s cancer treatment facilities, could cut death tolls.
Zimbabwe yesterday joined the rest of the world in commemorating the day which is set aside to embolden the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. This year’s event ran under the theme, “I am and I will campaign for Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Cancer”.
VP Chiwenga said statistics from the World Health Organisation showed that cancer was the second leading cause of worldwide deaths after Covid-19 which recently doubled the casualty rate.
Officially launching the annual cancer awareness and screening campaign, Vice President Chiwenga highlighted some of the efforts being done to address the burden of cancer in Zimbabwe.
“My ministry is also updating the Zimbabwe Cancer Prevention and Control Strategy to make it mandatory for citizens to be screened for cancer in certain age groups, for example, prostate cancer for men aged 40 and above.
“There will also be training of oncologists and oncology nurses in Zimbabwe at the Parirenyatwa School of Nursing and College of Health Sciences and a mass immunisation programme for human papilloma virus, targeting girls aged between 10 and 14 years to protect them against development of cervical cancer,” said Vice President Chiwenga.
“We will have screening programmes for cervical cancer up to district health facility level. In the year 2020, 110 686 women were screened for cervical cancer. Out of the 5 883 who tested positive, 4 561 were treated and the treatment rate stood at 77,5 percent.”
Vice President Chiwenga said health authorities had established the cancer registry at Parirenyatwa Hospital, considered as one of the best in Africa in terms of collecting data on cancer, which together with Mpilo Hospital, has facilities for radiotherapy treatment.
“There will be roll out of the Palliative Care Programme to health facilities to ensure cancer patients have access to pain management, counselling and support services up to the rural health facility level.
“We will ensure inclusion of screening tools for cervical cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer in the electronic health records to ensure robust follow up of cancer patients,” said VP Chiwenga.
His ministry recognised all stakeholders and health care staff working tirelessly towards the successful execution of cancer programmes in Zimbabwe.
He said more effort was still required to ensure that citizens had access to world class cancer care.
He also reiterated that Covid-19 vaccine jabs will be administered for free on everyone willing to be immunised against the virus in the interest of public health.
“The Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe embarked on a deliberate programme to acquire more Covid-19 vaccines.
“My fellow Zimbabweans, let me also reiterate that the Government of Zimbabwe will roll out Covid-19 vaccines for free, to all our citizens who may wish to be vaccinated,” said VP Chiwenga. “The policy is inspired by humane morals that life should not be bought.”
Vice President Chiwenga said the emergence of new strains accelerated the progression of a second wave at the close of last year and beginning of this year.
“Consequently, an upward trend in confirmed cases, active cases and deaths were recorded in Zimbabwe. In response to the growing threat to public health, the Government of Zimbabwe forged synergies with friendly states, civil society organisations, strategic partners, corporates and the generality of our Zimbabweans to combat the pandemic,” said VP Chiwenga.
“We welcome and are very grateful to the Peoples’ Republic of China for their donation of the Covid-19 vaccines to Zimbabwe. The landmark gesture will achieve a milestone in combating the pandemic.”