Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
FORMER Politburo member and deputy Speaker of Parliament Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu yesterday welcomed the official opening of the Mpilo cancer unit and for the first time publicly shared his cancer treatment experiences.
The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa on Thursday officially opened the Mpilo Hospital Radiotherapy Centre and Nuclear Medicine Department.
Cde Ndlovu, a prostate cancer patient who gave a testimony, said he could not stomach the pain he felt when he met two elderly men from Matabeleland region who were sleeping on benches at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare while seeking cancer treatment.
“I want to take this time to applaud the Government of Zimbabwe for this kind gesture which will help our people from this region. Recently, when I went for treatment in Harare, I met two elderly men; one from Tsholotsho and one from Nkayi who were forced to sleep on the benches as they knew no one in Harare,” said Cde Ndlovu.
“I was saddened by their circumstances and I know quite a lot of poor old folks who suffer from prostate cancer have had horrible experiences trying to seek treatment elsewhere.”
He said even the late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo spoke about cancer and its worrying prevalence among the elderly in Zimbabwe.
“Cancer has wiped us away as men and even as you see me sitting on this wheelchair unable to stand on my own, I have suffered because of cancer. We are happy that we won’t need to travel to Harare where there are many machines but we will also access cancer treatment from our local hospital.”
Mpilo clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya urged members of the public to embrace the unit and desist from subscribing to dangerous misconceptions about cancer treatment.
“We are happy that the unit is finally open and our people will now have access to cancer treatment right here in Bulawayo. I would like to urge them to come and get tested for cancer and receive treatment immediately,” said Dr Ngwenya.
“We also want to assure them that cancer treatment does not involve burning people as some allege. We urge even churches to help us raise awareness so that people get tested early for cancer and we save lives.”
Cancer has become the biggest killer disease in the country chiefly because of the astronomical costs a patient must bear to be treated.
Often the condition is detected late when the cancer has progressed so far that medical treatment cannot overcome it. Cancer has overtaken HIV and Aids as the biggest killer in the country.