Govt commits to improving cancer treatment

THE Government is committed in improving cancer treatment in the country through the attainment of the 60 percent survival rate of children diagnosed with cancer by 2030, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro.

He was speaking through the director of Non Communicable Diseases in the Ministry, Dr Wenceslas Nyamayaro, in Harare on Tuesday during the commemorations of International Childhood Cancer Day.

The day is remembered on February 15 to raise awareness about childhood cancer and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors, and their families.

This year’s commemorations ran under the theme, “Better Survival’ is achievable #through your hands” and Dr Mangwiro noted the need to improve the survival rate for the diagnosed.

“The Childhood Cancer Initiative and The Zimbabwe National Cancer Control Plan aim to ensure the availability of drugs as and when required, review the referral pathways, assess the hospitals’ capacities to do the necessary diagnostics as well as the integration of childhood cancer into national strategies, health benefits packages and social insurance schemes.

“All these measures will see the management of childhood cancers improve significantly, and the attainment of the 60 percent survival rate by 2030 a reality,” said Dr Mangwiro.

He reminded that 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer in high income countries survive.

In contrast 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer in low and medium income countries die despite the fact that 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer can be cured.

Dr Mangwiro said some of the measures put in place include running dedicated wards for children suffering from cancer at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Mpilo Hospital in collaboration with Kidzcan Zimbabwe, provision of blood and blood products for free in public hospitals.

Training of specialists in oncology, procurement of drugs, stepping up efforts to raise awareness on childhood cancers and vaccinating girls between 10-14 years against Human Papilloma Virus.

Dr Mangwiro said also childhood cancer screening has been integrated in the maternal and child health program to ensure early diagnosis.

World Health Organisation Country representative, Dr Alex Gasasira, who was represented by Dr Tsitsi Siwela commended the initiatives being taken by Zimbabwe in this regard.

“WHO would like to commend the great work that the government is doing in strengthening childhood cancer management.

“Concerning childhood cancer, Zimbabwe is doing quite well and is doing so much. The MOHCC (Ministry of Health and Child Care) has prioritised childhood cancer management.

“The Government of Zimbabwe has prioritised Childhood Cancer treatment. All under 5yrs old are treated for free, while Kidscan cater for treatment for all the other age groups, their medicines and any other radiological examinations that are not available at Parirenyatwa.

“At Parirenyatwa radiotherapy for paediatrics is given priority. The country has a number of specialist paediatric oncologists. Zimbabwe has also shown interest in joining the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood,” said Dr Gasasira through Dr Siwela.

“Where specialists are available, such as provincial hospitals, childhood cancers can be diagnosed. Some cancers are diagnosed by Ultrasound scans and these are available at some provincial hospitals, who then refer to tertiary institutions like Parirenyatwa or Sally Mugabe Hospitals, that have more specialists who can diagnose and offer treatment.

“WHO applauds the MOHCC for strengthening management of childhood Cancer in Zimbabwe.

“WHO looks forward to working with the government of Zimbabwe, and other stakeholders, to come up with a sustainable childhood cancer programme that will improve chances of survival for children with cancer in the country and reduce their suffering.”Herald. https://masvingomirror.com

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