Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe is strengthening the cancer treatment programme by ensuring treatment is available at a reasonable cost, First Lady Amai Mnangagwa has said.
Addressing delegates attending the 12th stop cervical, breast and prostate cancer (SCCA) conference in Maseru, Lesotho, Amai Mnangagwa said she had partnered with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to spearhead awareness for cancer prevention. The First Lady, who is a champion and ambassador for women and child health, undertook to raise the shield against cancer by educating Zimbabweans about the disease.
“Zimbabwe is one of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of cervical cancer disease burden, she said. Three thousand new cervical cancer cases are recorded every year and about 1 500 deaths occur annually. Most of these cases are diagnosed late. This puts a burden on treatment.
“The prevention programmes have been weak. Here I mean the HPV vaccination programme and the cervical cancer screening programme. The issue of awareness amongst the population on the importance of screening was also lagging.”
The First Lady said in the past, Zimbabweans were not adequately made aware of the risk factors for developing cervical cancer in particular and cancer in general.
“It is against this background that since January 2018, I have started working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to spearhead awareness for cancer prevention programme,” she said.
“Our approach in fighting cancer is multi-pronged. We want to ensure that there is awareness of the disease by giving information to people.
“We have strengthened the screening programme, Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Cervicography. This is being done in the health institutions, as well as an outreach.
The First Lady said a mobile bus she was using for her outreach programmes enabled her to reach people in remote parts of the country.
“We are strengthening the treatment programme by ensuring that treatment is available at a reasonable cost, be it radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery, she said.
“We also want to ensure availability of drugs and commodities for those terminally ill patients so that they do not suffer from pain, amongst other issues.”
Amai Mnangagwa told the gathering that she launched the National HPV programme in May expected to benefit over 800 000 girls aged between 10 and 14.
“We want to ensure that young girls are immunised using the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, she said. ‘This has started.”
Amai Mnangagwa acknowledged partners who have stood with the country in the fight against cancer. The conference, which was attended by First Ladies from various countries, ran under the theme: “Making a difference in women, men and children’s lives: access to medicines, diagnostics, treatment and palliative care for cancers in Africa”.