Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Cancer Day which was running under the theme, “Better Survival is achievable #through your hands” which calls for well-wishers to help the children that are living with cancer and the frontline workers who are looking after diagnosed cancer children in the world and Zimbabwe in particular.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr. John Mangwiro was the Guest of Honour and in his speech, he stated that despite the fact that eighty percent of children diagnosed with cancer can be cured, a large number of children diagnosed with cancer in low and medium-income countries which include Zimbabwe die.
“In contrast to high-income countries where children diagnosed with cancer survive, 8 out of 10 children diagnosed with cancer in low and medium income countries which include Zimbabwe, die,” said Dr. Mangwiro in a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry of Health Director for Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr. Wenceslas Nyamayaro.
The Deputy Minister said that the Government of Zimbabwe has strengthened its initiatives to ensure the survival of children diagnosed with cancer despite the fact that the COVID 19 pandemic has made it difficult to access screening, diagnosis, and treatment services.
“Sadly, the COVID 19 pandemic has made it more difficult for children with cancer to access screening, diagnosis, and treatment services,” said the Deputy Minister of Health.
Dr. Mangwiro said the Ministry of Health was keen to take up the World Health Organisation Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer and scale up the provision of Childhood Cancer Services in Zimbabwe with a view to improve the survival rate of children with cancer by 2030.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care has expressed its interest in taking up the World Health Organisation Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer and scale up provision of Childhood Cancer Services in Zimbabwe with a view to improve the survival rate of children with cancer from the current 20 percent to 60 percent in developing countries by the year 2030,” said Dr. Mangwiro.
KidzCan Zimbabwe Executive Director, Mr. David McKenzie said KidzCan Zimbabwe is now supplying chemotherapy for free at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals as well as free transport in order to help the less privileged children that are diagnosed with cancer in Zimbabwe.
“KidzCan is now supplying free Chemotherapy at Parirenyatwa as well as providing free transport to the diagnosed children aiming their goal that is early detection is the best protection”, said Mr. McKenzie.
Dr. Sharon Kapambwe Assistant Director Cancer Control at the Ministry of Health in Zambia said with the aim of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which is 'Towards Care, Cure, and Health for all', avoidable deaths from childhood cancer in low and medium-income countries are a result of lack of diagnosis amongst other things.
"Avoidable deaths from childhood cancer in low and medium income countries are a result of lack of diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis, obstacles to accessing care, abandonment, of treatment, death from toxicity, and higher rates of relapse," said Dr. Kapambwe.
To ensure better survival of children diagnosed with cancer, the Ministry of Health and Child Care runs dedicated wards for children suffering from cancer at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospital and Mpilo Hospital in collaboration with Kidzcan Zimbabwe, also provide blood and blood products for free in public hospitals, and training of specialists in oncology, oncology nurses and radio oncologists is conducted at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.