For the first time, Zimbabwe has joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Cancer Day, amid calls for the government to consider introducing a cancer levy and some cost effective interventions with a view to addressing preventable cancers.Â
The commemorations were held at Africa Unity Square in Harare.
Speaking on the sidelines of the commemorations, some cancer survivors appealed to government to introduce a levy to cater for people diagnosed with the disease, as treatment costs are too exorbitant for the ordinary person.
There are only two centres in the country providing comprehensive cancer services which is Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare and Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo.Â
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Henry Madzorera said government is committed to improving cancer prevention and treatment programmes, but the greatest constraint at the two major referral institutions in the country, is lack of proper radiotherapy equipment and chemotherapy drugs.
World Health Organisation country representative, Dr Custodia Mandhlante said WHO remains committed to supporting governments and working together with international and national partners to promote policies and interventions that protect individuals and communities from cancer.
Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by a disorder of abnormal growth of cells, and in Zimbabwe cases are diagnosed late and treatment is less effective but very expensive.
According to the World Health Organisation, cancer is the leading cause of death around the world and statistics have indicated that the disease is killing more people globally than tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS and malaria combined.
The 2010 Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry reports that 4 175 cases comprising 1 842 males and 2 333 females were recorded in 2006.