HARARE – Government should give cancer due prominence to stop people from dying, deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe has said.
Addressing delegates at the launch of the Thokozani Khupe Cancer Foundation, Khupe challenged government to seriously put in place cancer support mechanisms to ameliorate the suffering of women.
“This is my plea to the government of Zimbabwe, it is high time we give prominence to cancer because cancer is killing people. It is a silent killer and you only know about it when you are about to die,” said Khupe.
Khupe, who is a breast cancer survivor, said treatment of cancer in the country was currently inaccessible and expensive.
She vowed that the foundation would transform the lives of cancer patients’ through rigorous cancer advocacy.
“I am sure that the board of this foundation will work tirelessly to improve the plight of cancer patients throughout Zimbabwe,” she said.
Khupe reaffirmed that government should relook into cancer treatment fees and availability to ensure the treatment is availed to every victim.
“When Dhemba (cancer patient) visited me last Monday I was heartbroken. I had breast cancer but mine was not as advanced as hers. Cancer treatment is expensive and we are letting these women die,” she said.
According to Khupe, it costs about $450 a session and one requires at least three sessions a week.
She said government should reduce cancer costs to $50.
Wilson Manase is chairperson of the foundation while Professor Hope Sadza is his deputy.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a speech read by Health minister Henry Madzorera, encouraged young women to get tested.
“I encourage young women to get tested. We are making efforts to bring cancer testing services to provincial hospitals,” said Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai said according to the Zimbabwe Cancer Registry, 5 000 new cancer cases are recorded every year.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said Khupe had already prepared a legacy from which she will be remembered, which he believes to be the true definition of a leader.
“It is common knowledge that adversity and bad things do visit good people but what you make of it is more important. Madam Khupe has today gone beyond self-actualisation to self-transcend. Which is going beyond self to create a legacy that will leave beyond 50 years,” said Mutambara.
Mutambara said it was time that government treated cancer as an emergency and give it the same prominence as HIV/Aids.
Madzorera lamented the delayed acceptance by many patients which he said usually complicated treatments due to late diagnosis.
“When Aids came to Africa, we were fast to say it is an American disease while they were looking for solutions,” he said.
“I do not know where this denial and procrastination came from. Let us wake up, non-communicable diseases have come to roost in Africa,” said Madzorera.
Parirenyatwa Hospital, the only centre that was offering advanced cancer treatment in Zimbabwe, recently suspended operations for the installation of new machines.
Mpilo is the only other hospital offering cancer treatment services in Zimbabwe. – Wendy Muperi