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‘No political will to provide medication, funding for cancer’

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STAKEHOLDERS in the health sector have rapped policymakers’ lack of political will to provide medication for cancer and stop the spread of the deadly disease.

Phyllis Mbanje
STAFF REPORTER

Executive director of the National Cancer Alliance of Zimbabwe Nelson Ngwaru told NewsDay in a recent interview that the apparent lack of will power on the part of policymakers to control the scourge was worrisome.

“While the values of the various forms of cancer are on the increase, there is very little that is being done to prevent this. The policymakers are not giving as much priority as is expected under the circumstances,” Ngwaru said.

A recent report produced by the Zimbabwe Cancer Registry (ZCR) revealed that new cancer cases recorded among Zimbabweans in 2012 was 6 107 comprising 2 621, (42,9%) males and 3 486 (57,1%) females.

In 2011, the country recorded a total of 5 553 new cancer cases with cervical cancer topping the charts.

“There is lack of information which the community can utilise to make informed decisions. That is why for cervical cancer black women are more affected than their white counterparts because they have limited access to information,” he said.

“The government is obviously challenged financially and does not have the capacity to manage and treat cancer and so it should focus on preventing the disease. Maybe they should redirect Aids levy towards cancer management.”

Cancer treatment in Zimbabwe is still very pricey, running into thousands of dollars, a situation which has resulted in many patients succumbing to the disease without getting any help.

ZCR registrar Eric Chokunonga said the upsurge in cancer cases could be attributed to lifestyle changes, diet and other factors, with most patients rushing to seek treatment when it is already too late.

“Public health benefits of a functional and good cancer surveillance system cannot be overemphasised. It contributes immensely to government cancer prevention and control activities, research into causation of cancer,” Chokunonga said.

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