HEALTH and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo last week told Senate that over 5 000 cases of cancer of all types were diagnosed in Zimbabwe annually.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
“Currently, over 5 000 new cancer diagnoses of all types are made here in Zimbabwe annually, but experience has shown us that this is just the tip of the iceberg as many cancers are not captured by the routine national health information system, because the patients do not present themselves for treatment or register deaths,” Moyo said.
“Of those who do report, the majority are already at an advanced stage of disease, with limited access to screening,” he said.
Moyo said the current cancer treatment and palliation services in the country were unable to meet demand.
He said the known causes of cancer were based on lifestyles, food, alcohol, smoking and physical activity. Pollution also accounts for about 2% of all cancers, while 80% are due to environmental factors, Moyo added.
The minister said the most common types were prostate cancer in men and cervical and breast cancers in women.
Moyo said hereditary cancers, mainly breast, ovarian, colon, rectal or prostate account for 5% to 10% of all the cancers.
He said the low survival rates of cancer patients were because of lack of access to early detection and treatment.
Moyo said Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR), which is said to have dropped to 651 deaths per 100 000 live births from the previous 960 deaths per 100 000 (2011) live births, remains unacceptably high.
He said Zimbabwe failed to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target on MMR, but was now strengthening maternal systems in the country to bring the figure down to at least 70 deaths per 100 000 live births.
Moyo said the interventions included health education for antenatal women, and removal of user fees for maternity services, which is being implemented in all public health facilities, as well as involvement of community-based health care workers, improving infrastructure, resources and services which women access while staying in maternal homes, for example, the measurement of blood pressure, fetal heart beat checks, and urinalysis.
He said his is also striving to strengthen the referral system for pregnant women.