From Paidamoyo Chipunza in Masvingo
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has appealed to Government to scrap radiotherapy charges for cancer patients. Addressing hundreds of people in Masvingo, she said the current $400 charge per session was beyond the reach of many cancer patients.
Cancer is now among the biggest killers in Zimbabwe after HIV and Aids.
The First Lady has taken her fight against cervical cancer across provinces and she was in Masvingo yesterday raising awareness against the disease.
She said cancer patients must not continue to suffer a double burden of a worsened condition and struggle to mobilise treatment costs.
Currently, only Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Mpilo Central Hospital offer radiology treatment.
“We appeal to President Mnangagwa to look into this issue because patients can not continue facing a double burden of securing treatment costs and managing an advanced condition. Just one session costs $400 and if they are to undergo all required sessions, the cost becomes even more unaffordable,” said the First Lady.
She said cancer screening and treatment facilities should be decentralised, particularly to ensure access by many.
The First Lady urged Zimbabweans to undergo cancer screening as early detection saves lives.
“All women must be screened for cervical cancer, which is the commonest type of cancer in Zimbabwe and affects women, but men also suffer from prostate cancer and should also be screened. We know that there are some cancers, which are also affecting children so everyone must be screened for cancer,” she said.
She warned people against consuming genetically modified foods.
The First Lady encouraged people to consume fresh fruits and vegetables to prevent cancer.
She planted fruit trees and vegetables in the hospital garden.
She also donated foodstuffs to the hospital, which included cooking oil, maize-meal, rice, baby formulae and porridge.
The First Lady toured the hospital kitchen to get an appreciation of meals given to patients and the challenges facing the institution in providing balanced diet.
She also toured the cancer screening department where she was received by hundreds of ululating women.
Speaking at the same occasion, Family Health Director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Bernard Madzima applauded the First Lady for the awareness campaigns, saying that the move will go a long way in fighting cancer.
Dr Madzima said Zimbabwe was among the 10 countries worst affected by cancers.
An estimated 3,96 million women are at risk of the disease.
Dr Madzima said of these women nearly 1 500 die each year and about 2 200 are diagnosed of cervical cancer.
He said while the country was making strides in national HIV and Aids response more and more people living with HIV were becoming prone to other conditions such as cancers.
“The national HIV programme has been so successful that more people are living longer and becoming prone to conditions such as cancers,” said Dr Madzima.
The First Lady embarked on a nationwide cancer awareness campaign a fortnight ago.
She has so far visited Bulawayo, Midlands and Masvingo.
The First Lady will take her campaigns to all the 10 provinces.