ZIMBABWE becomes the first SADC country to partner with an American childhood cancer specialist hospital to improve paediatric cancer management in the country.
By Kuda Pembere
With the country not spared among low middle income countries having an average survival rate of 20 %, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo while officiating the Paediatric Association of Zimbabwe Conference on Cancers in Zimbabwe said much needs to be done to increase these rates. He commended the partnership between St Jude Children’s Hospital Research and Treatment Hospital for Childhood Cancer as one which will go a long way in achieving the Ministry’s vision in reducing the burden of non communicable diseases like cancers.
“Through Parirenyatwa hospital which has the only pediatric centre in the country, the hospital has partnered with St Jude Children’s Research and Treatment Hospital for Childhood Cancer. The aim of this partnership is to increase the survival of children with cancer through improving services for children with cancer, strengthening capacity of health workers both doctors and nurses, enhancing training and education, establishing a subspecialty programme in pediatric haematooncology in the College of Health Sciences,” he said.
The Health Minister said the American Institution has a good reputation in the management of childhood cancers.
“St Jude was selected by the World Health Organisation as the Global Collaborating Centre for paediatric cancer prevention and treatment. To date St Jude has supported 52 countries worldwide outside Sub Saharan Africa to improve services for paediatric cancers,” Dr Moyo said.
Dr Moyo was proud to see Zimbabwe becoming the first country in the Sadc region selected in this partnership.
“To date St Jude has supported 52 countries worldwide outside Sub Saharan Africa to improve services for paediatric cancers. For the first time St Jude is focussing on countries in SubSaharan Africa and they have chosen Zimbabwe to be the very first country in this region to partner with St Jude thus making Zimbabwe the 53rd country in the St Jude partnership also known as the Global Alliance,” he said.
St Jude Hospital pediatric hematologist-oncologist Professor Justin Baker speaking to HealthTimes explained why they chose Zimbabwe first.
“St Jude decided to partner with Zimbabwe because one of our leaders in paediatric oncology came out of St Jude trained here first in Zimbabwe. We also have a passion of helping people of Sub saharan africa and partnering with them. We knew that in Zimbabwe was a very strong partner. We have a wonderful Professor Chitsike and she is doing great work. We knew that in partnering together, the future of Zimbabwe paediatric cancer care will be very strong,” he said.
Professor Inima Chitsike from Parirenyatwa Hospital said they receive about 200 cases a year of child cancers urging the public to visit the hospitals for early diagnosis. 9