THERE is need to create a Cancer Levy to fund for treatment of cancer patients in the country, medical doctors have said.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Modelled like the AIDS levy, the fund will help cancer patients access affordable treatment.This came out during a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee On Gender Cancer Assessment tour around Harare’s hospitals.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Consultant Oncologist Dr Anna Mary Nyakabau told parliamentarians that patients were bearing the burden of expensive cancer treatment on their own.
“Most of the patients we treat for cancer use money from their own pockets. Even those on medical aid, their benefits quickly run out resulting in them paying using their money,” she said. “So we would like to propose that there be a cancer fund created which patients can draw money from.”
She also said that it was critical to have this levy set up. “You know it is not fine for cancer patients to wait for money from the AIDS levy hence the need for a separate levy,” Dr Nyakabawu said.
Chipping in was the Hospital’s clinical director Mr Noah Madziva who emphasised the importance of having a cancer fund.
“Most people are diagnosed with cancer as they get old. So imagine you have worked as a government teacher and retire at 65. Then you are found with cancer and after all these years of service you do not have the money to pay for treatment. It is unfair,” he said.
Head of West End Hospital Dr Arnold Vhumisai concurred on the issue of a cancer levy saying most of the cancer patients they have end up paying for treatment on shortfall.
“About 90 percent of the patients that come here for treatment are on medical aid. So you find that some of the patients end up paying for treatment using the shortfall method. This is because most of their medical aid benefits would have depleted in a short space of time as cancer treatment is expensive. If there was a Cancer Levy for cancer patients it would make the treatment affordable to them,” he said.
At West End Hospital, they had 125 cancer patients last year with 41 people dying. Of the 125, 68 males largely had prostate cancer while 57 females suffered from breast cancer.