Fiona Ruzha, H-Metro Reporter
ZIMBABWE faces new threats in the form of non-communicable diseases, particularly cancer with 60 percent of new cases associated with HIV, a senior health official has said.
Speaking during the handover ceremony of 16 cervical cancer screening machines and official launch the National Aids Council 2019 HIV, AIDS and Cancer Prevention Golf Drive yesterday, Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo said great strides have been made towards achieving vision 2030.
“This handover of cervical cancer screening machines therefore resonates with Amai Mnangagwa’s work as it comes in the midst of a spike in the cases of cancer among our people, which demands urgent intervention before the situation reaches epidemic levels.
“The number of new HIV infections has dropped from 0.88 percent in 2011 to 0.50 percent in 2018 as confirmed by the Zimbabwe National HIV Estimates for 2018.
“At the same time, nearly 1.2 million people living with HIV are now receiving antiretroviral therapy out of the 1.3 million who require it.
“The response is now geared towards ending AIDS by 2030 and there are a lot targets that we need to achieve as we build towards that goal,” he said.
Dr Moyo mentioned that our nation is faced with a serious problem which we should address before it reaches epidemic proportions.
“In Zimbabwe, over 600 new cases of cancer are recorded each year, with women being the most affected by cervical cancer, breast cancer, Kaposi sarcoma and others in that order.
“In fact, cervical cancer alone accounts for 35 percent of all cancers in Zimbabwe,” he said.
There are types of cancer with breast cancer being a cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts, prostate cancer which is cancer in a man’s prostate (a small walnut-sized gland that produces seminal fluid), colon cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum, located at the digestive tract’s lower end, cervical cancer is the type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, only to mention a few.
The Minister said lack of community awareness was identified as the major challenge in fighting all these type of cancer.
“Lack of community awareness has been identified in the National Cancer Prevention and Control strategy for Zimbabwe 2014 to 2018 as one of the major challenges that we face in fighting cancer as 80 percent of cancer patients present late at stages three and four, resulting in increased premature deaths.
“Other challenges include shortage of proper diagnostic equipment at community level which results in people obtaining help when the cancer has metastasised,” said Dr Moyo.