DEPUTY Minister of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Dr John Mangwiro has hinted on government’s Intention to decentralise radiology services which are currently being offered at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Mpilo and Oncore Center in Harare.
By Michael Gwarisa
The move is in line with government’s vision of devolution whereby critical economic enabling services will be offered in all the country’s 10 provinces.
Officially launching the Breast cancer Pink Conference in the capital, Dr Magwiro said owing to economic woes, some cancer patients find it difficult to travel to the few available radiology centres and end up presenting late for treatment resulting in the country recording high cancer related mortality.
“We need to decentralise, that is the vision. Devolution and decentralisation these are key. Why not have a centre in each province, once they are there we equip you with the human resources and machinery and we update them according to technology.
“We also want more training centres for radiology, I understand only 15 students are trained per year. We want to even train for the region, we can never be an upper middle income economy as long as people we are still dying from cancer, “said Dr Mangwiro.
He added that there was need for awareness on cancer as people are presenting late for cancer making it difficult to combat the cancer scourge which kills not less than 9.2 million globally and affects at least 7000 in Zimbabwe every year.
“Decentralisation is part of the bigger vision, as a ministry we need the radiographers to procure what they need since they know the latest technologies.
“It’s going to be a general policy that we need to make life cheaper for our patients with chronic diseases. We want to make sure that their medicines is in place. We are putting in place things that will make life easier for every patient.”
Zimbabwe is facing an increased prevalence rate on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which include cancer, diabetes, accidents, and disability among others. The challenge has been referred as the double burden of diseases which cause massive resources constraint for struggling countries like Zimbabwe.
“Breast cancer is the second most common malignous, at 11.6 percent and 15.9 percent respectively according to the Zimbabwe cancer register report of 2016. Breast Cancer is not confined to women but also in women and in men it’s very nasty.
“The high burden of breast cancer in the country has been attributed to late presentation, lack of human resorces and lack of diagnostic and treatment facilities. As a ministry, we acknowledge the need to fight this enemy using other means,” said Dr Mangwiro.
Meanwhile, Talk Cancer Zimbabwe founder, Mrs Michelle Madzudzo urged women to screen for breast cancer regularly as it aids in detecting the deadly diseases early before it reaches advanced stages.
“It is sad that we lose most of the patients because they present late for cancer. Prognosis in Zimbabwe is not very accurate and we need to advance in that area,” said Madzudzo.
Radiotherapist, Mrs Adlight Makura bemoaned the shortage of radiotherapists in the country and called on government to increase recruitment of students in that area to beef up the current numbers which are standing at 34.
“We have various challenges as radiotherapists and the biggest one is the issue of financial resources. We also have a human resources deficit as we are only 34 radiotherapists countrywide and we only have three centres, meaning we have at least 10 experts manning every centre.
“Late presentation by patients also makes it difficult to find solutions early. Government should also subsidise cancer drugs to ensure patients get adequate access. These drugs are very expensive and with the prevailing foreign currency shortages, we might have a bigger problem,” said Makura.