Thematic Committee on Gender & Development - Report on Cancer Treatment & Control in Zimbabwe

1.0     INTRODUCTION

Cancer is set to overtake HIV and AIDS as the leading cause of death in Zimbabwe. The disease is often diagnosed late and with very few oncologists in public hospitals, most cancer patients lose their lives prematurely. According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, cancer remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality with over 5,000 new diagnoses and over 1,500 deaths per year. •  The incidence of cervical cancer in Zimbabwe is reported to be 35 per 100,000  women compared to the   global   average of 15.  Against  this background, the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development resolved to conduct fact finding visits to assess the impact in the visited areas. Ten hospitals were visited including hospitals in Harare; Chitungwiza; Matabeleland North; Bulawayo; Gweru; Kwekwe; and Kadoma.

2·.0      OBJECTIVES

2.1      To  assess the provision of cancer services at hospitals focusing  on diagnosis, radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment; and

2.2       To ascertain adequacy of resources, infrastructure, manpower.

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7.0     CONCLUSION

It can be concluded that currently the status of cancer management in Zimbabwe is still dire. Early detection, diagnostic, radio- and chemotherapy and palliative care are constrained by a number of challenges. Cancer treatment services are centralized in Harare and Bulawayo, posing challenges related to transport and accommodation costs. Frequent breakdown of radiotherapy and chemotherapy machines, due to power outages, exposes patients' erratic treatment which makes the virus resistant to medication. Additional challenges include a critical shortage of pathologists, radiologists and surgical oncologists. With regards to treatment costs, it was concluded that many cancer patients, cannot afford fees for services such as screening, biopsy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and palliative care medication.

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