Notice: Undefined variable: fm_appid in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/facebook-members/facebook-members.php on line 71
Tendai Rupapa in ACCRA, Ghana
Zimbabwe is among 10 countries that have been most affected by cancer which claims at least 2 000 women annually, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo has said.
The minister, who was part of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s entourage here, said this during a high level ministerial panel on Wednesday at the 6th edition of Merck Foundation Africa-Asia luminary.
The conference was being held by the foundation in partnership with African First Ladies and health experts, among other dignitaries.
Amai Mnangagwa who is the country’s Health Ambassador has been instrumental in devising strategies to fight killer diseases like cancer.
She is also the Merck More than a Mother Ambassador in Zimbabwe.
Dr Moyo said cancer, infertility and diabetes were becoming a major cause for concern in Zimbabwe and the region.
“Zimbabwe is one of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of cervical cancer burden. Around 2 000 women die every year from cervical cancer. Other common cancers include breast and prostate cancer.
“Zimbabwe, like the rest of the world, particularly countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has over the years been seized with combating infectious diseases like malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS. While this has been going on, emerging conditions of the non-communicable diseases have gone on unnoticed.
“With the advent of anti-retroviral treatments, targets to eliminate malaria in the Sadc region and now very low prevalence rates of TB, there has been a realisation of how conditions like infertility, cancer, diabetes mellitus and hypertension have caused great morbidity in Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said it was saddening to note that no surveys have been conducted to quantify the extent of the challenges caused by some of the non-communicable diseases.
Dr Moyo also attended another meeting which was organised by the African Union and UNESCO in partnership with Merck Foundation.
The meeting afforded health ministers an opportunity to discuss and assess how African countries can research and prioritise such problem issues affecting the health sector.
It was observed that there was little research being done to generate evidence for interventions.
While addressing, Dr Moyo said, “I will start by analysing how Merck can be able to strategise in ensuring that they are concentrating their efforts in funding in the research direction, that is very critical and coming out with a strategy that is visible.”
It was agreed that countries needed political commitment at the highest level to promote research and increase budgets on research and to strengthen monitoring and evaluation departments and programmes.
Commitment, increasing budgets and incentivising research for the scientists and investigators were identified as critical.
“Merck is training doctors on various specialties, therefore I suggested that areas of research for starters should be on those areas you are already training people in.
“The students being trained can now be supported to come up with research projects in their respective countries. We can benefit from them as they are being trained to treat and at the same time generating research material.
“As a continent, we have to build facilities from where they will conduct their research.”
The African Union was encouraged to take the lead in giving guidance to Heads of State and ministers of health at that level.
The meeting noted that funding is a critical element in research and if Africa wanted to see an improvement in the research area and be able to manufacture medicines, then research should be supported from the top.