The Oncocare Cancer Treatment Centre, a multi-million dollar investment by a consortium of local investors, is seeking a special dispensation from Government to bring in foreign experts to augment cancer-related services being offered by local specialists. The Oncocare centre is the only privately-owned comprehensive cancer treatment clinic in the country, which has been complimenting Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals’ cancer department.
The centre offers all radiotherapy and chemotherapy services that most Zimbabweans seek in countries such as India and South Africa. It is a one-stop shop equipped with the latest highly automated technology for cancer treatment.
In an interview yesterday, Oncocare Cancer Treatment Centre chief executive officer Mr Ben Deda said they had since written to Government seeking to be allowed to bring in the foreign doctors.
He said the doctors will augment locally available skills, so that the centre can eventually be able to accommodate all those seeking such treatment. Mr Deda said although the centre was privately-owned, it complimented Government efforts in the fight against cancer.
“We understand the need to protect the high standard and integrity of the local medical industry, however, from our side we are looking for a special dispensation due to the emergency and overwhelming nature of the cancer burden,” he said.
“We are not looking at changing the law. It’s a special case, not for all other diseases that we can wholesomely take care of locally. “What we are simply saying is that let’s add more skills. The reason why we are seeking a dispensation is that it quickens the process of bringing the experts here.”
The general route in the medical field is that if one acquires a medical degree from the University of Zimbabwe and do specialisation, they register as a doctor and get a practicing licence after qualification and assessment.
If one is trained abroad that exercise is not done in the same. “There is a registration and verification process the authorities do to ensure that the foreign qualification is equivalent to what is offered here,” said Mr Deda.
He said the process usually took five years, whereby the foreigner or the foreign trained doctor has to be first employed by Government under the supervision of another local specialist.
“What we are looking at is that the foreign qualified specialists come and work at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in collaboration with local specialists, with our support in terms of remuneration,” he said. “They can work at Parirenyatwa, but they can also work here for us.
“What we are seeing is that these doctors are the same doctors who our Zimbabwean people are travelling to go and see in India. What we are trying to achieve is up to date standards, so that we can prevent our people from spending fortunes going abroad for cancer treatment.”
Mr Deda said that they were also facing power challenges and they had engaged Zesa Holdings with a view to having a dedicated line. He said the centre was cultivating active collaboration with key stakeholders in the cancer care delivery chain.
Among other things, Oncocare Centre provides services such as medical imaging (diagnostic radiology), pathology and laboratory medicine, chemotherapy and oncology pharmacy.
The multi-million dollar centre was opened in August last year, and will go a long way in fighting cancer, which is known as a silent killer and is affecting more than 7 000 people in Zimbabwe. Most of the cancers in Zimbabwe are related to HIV.