Shot in the arm for cancer patients

breast cancer ribbon

AT least 380 disadvantaged breast cancer patients will receive a year-long free supply of tamoxifen, an oral drug used in treating breast cancer.

In 2018, the Zimbabwe National Cancer registry showed that breast cancer was the second most common malignancy diagnosed in Zimbabwean women after cervical cancer.

It accounted for about 10% of all cancers diagnosed in the country.

Speaking at the drug handover ceremony at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare yesterday, chief executive officer Aspect Maunganidze — who was standing in for Health and Child Care ministry secretary Jasper Chimedza — lamented the late presentation of cancer cases by patients, saying this might lead to poor treatment outcomes.

Maunganidze said there was stigma and fear associated with cancer.

“This initiative by Cancerserve and partners has come at the right time, complementing government efforts in the fight against cancer during the period of recovery from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent disasters like Cyclone Idai,” Maunganidze said.

“We acknowledge that more work needs to be done to close the gap in the provision of cancer services.”

Head of department at Parirenyatwa Hospital Radiotherapy Centre, Nothando Mutizira said there had been a steady increase in the number of breast cancer cases diagnosed in Zimbabwe over the last decade with 601 cases having been recorded in 2018.

Parirenyatwa Hospital clinical director Tsitsi Magure said: “This donation will go a long way to assist some of the disadvantaged patients who cannot afford the medicines.”

Cancerserve board member Alex Danso said they had secured enough funds to purchase the next batch of drugs to assist the same number of patients for the next one-and-half-years.

“Cancerserve took the Novartis/ Clinton Health Access Initiative and others cancer access initiatives which offer governments and private voluntary organisations off-patent good quality medications at discounted prices, starting with tamoxifen for breast cancer,” he said.

Cancer treatment is lagging behind because the country lacks vital equipment.

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