Stakeholders in the health sector have called for the review of existing public policies, practices and resourcing of the national cancer programmes as statistics show that the number of people suffering from cancer is increasing at alarming rates.For the past three decades, governments around the world have been preoccupied with dealing with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS among others.
The result has been that diseases such as cancer, hypertension and diabetes have received lesser attention.
However, statistics show that internationally, cancer is killing more people than HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria combined.
In Zimbabwe, 5 000 new cases of cancer are being recorded every year.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Douglas Mombeshora said while concerted efforts were being made towards raising awareness on HIV and TB, cancer was receiving little attention, but admitted that there is need for the government to look into ways of funding cancer programmes so as to lessen the burden on sufferers.
At the moment, only two government hospitals, namely Parirenyatwa and Mpilo, are dispensing cancer drugs.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr David Parirenyatwa supported the idea of creating a separate fund for cancer, but added that the idea will require input from all sectors of the economy.
Mr Tafadzwa Chigariro from the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe said the responsible authorities must come up with a way of resourcing the national cancer programmes, if people affected by the disease are to have any hope for a better life.
Cancers that are most common in Zimbabwe include breast, cervical, prostate and testicular cancers.
One-third of these cancers are preventable and an additional one-third of cancers can be detected and treated while there is still hope.
However, the cost of treatment in Zimbabwe is prohibitive. At a public hospital, a session of chemotherapy costs at least $600 and a cancer patient requires at least six sessions.