The plight of thousands of cancer patients from across the length and breadth on the country who are forced to travel to Parirenyatwa Radiotherapy Centre in Harare and Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo is one story of pain and misery.

It is in light of the numerous challenges that cancer patients are facing, owing to the centralisation of key services that they are calling on government to expedite the decentralisation of treatment services to all provinces.

Despite significant advances made by Zimbabwe in modern medicine, there are still certain areas where the country can do better.

The ordeal of cancer patients who come from outside Harare and have to spend nights sleeping on hospital benches or in the open as they receive treatment illustrates the urgent need for the decentralisation of cancer services.

Mrs Mufaro Chiwanza lives in Gweru and was diagnosed with cancer.

Her tale is testimony to the harrowing circumstances that cancer patients in the country are having to face daily.

Being diagnosed with cancer continues to strike fear in the hearts of many Zimbabweans because of the costs involved and the centralised nature of cancer services.

While private chemotherapy services are now available in big cities, there are still no private radiotherapy services in the country.

The government has made some progress in spreading some cancer services such as education and screening to all the 10 provinces and the registration of cancer patients to Bulawayo. However, there are no indications of major long-term targets such as decentralisation of diagnosis and treatment, yet the national cancer control strategy states that cancer services will be decentralised by 2018.

At least 7 000 new cancer cases are being recorded  on average, every year in the country.