A $10 million cancer treatment clinic has been opened in Harare as the country seeks to find solutions to the silent killer which has affected thousands of Zimbabweans.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Oncocare Cancer Treatment Centre has equipment that can detect cancer, do chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a specialised cancer retail pharmacy to cater for the increasing number of patients who are diagnosed with the condition.
“The new facility has the ability to offer unique, state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary oncology treatment in a more comfortable and convenient setting so as to deliver personalised cancer therapies.
“It provides renewed hope to the more than 7 000 patients in Zimbabwe diagnosed with cancer annually,” Oncocare chief executive officer Ben Deda said.
Due to high costs related to cancer treatment, many Zimbabweans often fly out of the country for treatment to countries such as India and South Africa.
But Deda said this should be a thing of the past as the newly-established clinic would offer the services at affordable prices.
The cost build-up from examination, diagnosis, lumpectomy, surgery to chemotherapy/radiotherapy, runs into thousands of dollars with no subsidies to alleviate the financial burden.
Many people end up dying because they just cannot afford to get treatment.
“The disease burden in Zimbabwe is overweighed by the high prevalence of HIV at 15% in the adult population. This has led to a big strain on the national healthcare budget. Gone are the days when people had to travel out of the country for treatment, we are here to serve them,” Deda said.
Of the affected, an estimated 1 200 die from the disease annually. A cycle is the time one goes through chemotherapy and then breaks before the next treatment to allow the body to recover. A patient may need a minimum of six cycles and these can go up to 12.
Radiotherapy costs between $3 000 and $4 000 for a whole session. In addition, cancer drugs are expensive.
But Deda said the clinic would be cheaper in a bid to help many Zimbabweans who are flocking to other countries for treatment.
Statistics released by the Zimbabwe Cancer Registry show that there is a steady increase in reported cases and cervical cancer accounts for most of them.
In 2011, recorded cases were 5 553, while in 2012 cases stood at 6 107 before escalating to 6 548 in 2013. According to government, cancer has become more threatening than HIV.