The fight against cancer requires more interventions after revelations that only one out of five radiotherapy machines in the country is functional. 

The other four machines, two at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and two at Mpilo Central Hospital are lying idle due to minor maintenance issues or are still to be installed.

Despite the growing cancer burden, the disease continues to receive a relatively low public health priority in the country, largely due to limited resources and other pressing public health problems.

The low funding can also in part be attributed to a general lack of awareness among policy makers and the general public.

This Monday, members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender and Development went on a fact finding mission to hospitals that offer cancer diagnosis and treatment in Harare.

The committee toured the facilities at the country‚Äôs biggest referral centre, Parirenyatwa Hospital, where three radiotherapy machines have been installed but only one is functional. 

The legislators were in agreement that efforts must be put on expanding the capacity of health care delivery systems to provide timely and effective treatment to patients diagnosed with early stage diseases for increased awareness initiatives to result in improved patient outcomes.

Earlier on, the committee had visited West End Hospital, a private institution which offers services to cancer patients. 

The legislators were shown around the facilities at the hospital and were told how the institution operates.

The legislators interacted with the hospital authorities to get to the bottom of how cancer treatment can be improved.

In 2018, 125 cancer patients were admitted at the private hospital and 41 died. 

The fact-finding mission has been necessitated by the fact that legislators have a critical role to play in cancer control by creating awareness of the burden of cancer and the benefits of early diagnosis in their constituencies.

The lawmakers are expected to lobby for funding for the control of cancer and help put cancer on the political agenda through their committees that exercise oversight function over the executive.