Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
ONLY 20 percent of children suffering from prevalent paediatric cancers survive in Zimbabwe, prompting the Ministry of Health and Child Care to craft strategies to improve the survival rate by 2030.
The most common cancers in Zimbabwe include that of white blood cells known as leukemia, brain, bone, and the lymphatic system which is called lymphoma. Experts say children continue to die from these childhood cancers due to late diagnosis and the HIV and Aids pandemic among others.
In a statement Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said cancer in children should be addressed.
“Cancer in children is an emerging childhood problem that should be addressed in the overall Child Health Agenda in Zimbabwe. In developed countries survival rates approach 90 percent and only average 20 percent in low middle income countries including Zimbabwe,” said Dr Moyo.
He added that Zimbabwe has taken strides towards improving survival rates through public private-partnerships.
“Parirenyatwa hospital which has the only paediatric centre in the country, has partnered with St Jude Children’s Research and Treatment Hospital in the United States of America for childhood cancer. The hospital has extended its support to Sub-Saharan Africa to improve services for paediatric cancers for the first time, making Zimbabwe the very first country in the region to benefit from the partnership,” said Dr Moyo.
He said Government has been pushing towards a 60 percent survival target through the department of Non-Communicable Diseases which is in the process of revising oncology guidelines for use by district and provincial doctors.
The World Health Organisation Country Representative, Dr Alex Gasasira, said each year 300 000 new cases of cancers are diagnosed in children aged 0-19 years.
“Children with cancer in low and middle income countries are four times more likely to die of the disease than children in high income countries due to various factors including late or no diagnosis, limited access or prohibitive cost of treatment, lack of required skills and equipment among other things,” said Dr Gasasira.
In September 2018, World Health Organisation launched a global initiative for childhood cancer with the aim of achieving a survival rate of 60 percent among children with cancer by 2030 in line with World Health General Assembly resolution 70.12. — @thamamoe.