MUTARE– Government will spread funds set aside for HIV and TB to combat cancer as it is hampered by financial constrains amid rising mortality among citizens, a top official has said.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Aldrin Musiiwa told delegates in his keynote address at the World Cancer Day commemorations that the two health institutions were not enough to fight the emerging pandemic.
He said government was mobilizing resources to establish cancer treatment centres to fight the non-communicable disease claiming more lives than HIV, Malaria and TB combined.
“There is need for the establishment of Cancer Treatment centers that provide comprehensive cancer prevention, care and treatment.
“Currently there are only two such centers, Parerenyatwa in Harare and Mpilo Hospital in Bulwayo. This makes it difficult for most people to access these services, as even these two remain under staffed and ill-equipped,” he said.
Dr Musiiwa said government was aware of the manpower challenges as it strongly considered spreading vertical funding to address the serious financial obstacles in combating the threat posed by cancer.
He said the other avenue to mobilize funds was through more private public partnerships, integrated interventions as well as domestic resource mobilization.
“There is need for adequate manpower through priority recruitment, employment and retention of staff, coupled with the provision of adequate diagnostic and treatment equipment including related critical medical supplies for cancer management.
“We see an opportunity in the mobilization of required resources which can be achieved through, integration with other programmes such as HIV and TB services- which are already fully funded,” he said, adding that, “Through partnership with development agencies, local public private partnerships and domestic resource mobilization and funding by government.”
UNFPA country Representative, Mr Cheikh Tidiane who was represented by Mr Abbigail Msemburi, Assistant Representative assured the commitment of his organisation in fighting cancer in Zimbabwe.
To this end the UNFPA in partnership with other development agencies has assisted government to set up Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Cervicography (VIAC) screening centers where thousands of women have been screened.
He said cervical cancer accounted for a third of cancer mortality posing a serious threat to women in the country, with as much as four women dying daily.
“…As UNFPA, we remain concerned about the high disease burden of cervical cancer in Zimbabwe. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for 33,4% of all cancer case. In Zimbabwe it is estimated that 4 women die every day due to cervical cancer.
“Initially with funding from UNFPA followed by support form UK Aid, Irish Aid and the Government of Sweden under the Integrated Support Programme [partners have] worked together with the Government of Zimbabwe on the National Cervical Cancer Screening,” said Tidiane.
World Health Organisation Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr David Okello, who was represented by Dr Anderson Chimusoro said cancer was posing a global threat to humanity, and a particularly growing public health concern in Africa.
He said increased cases of cancers on the continent was likely to double within two decades from 2008 figures due to aging and growing African population.
“Cancer is a disease that affects a growing number of people every year. The increase in the number of cases of cancer is recognized as a worrying public health concern in Africa.
“Women in the region commonly suffer breast and cervical cancer whereas men have higher rates of liver, stomach, bladder, prostate, lung and throat cancers.
“About 715 000 new cases and 542 cancer deaths occurred in 2008 0n the continent. These numbers are expected to double in the next 20 years simply because of the aging and growing population,” said Dr Okello.