On Wednesday the international community marked World Cancer Day, under the tagline ‘Not beyond us’, calling for prevention, early detection, treatment and care.
World Cancer Day is an opportunity to fight against the disease. It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.
The 2015 campaign is centered on choosing healthy living, delivering early detection, achieving treatment for all and, maximizing quality of life.
Zimbabwe joined other nations in marking the day. Non-communicable diseases including cancer have over the past decades been receiving more attention in Zimbabwe and other developing countries.
According to the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe two of the top cancers affecting people in the country are cancer of the cervix in women and prostate cancer in men. The most recent cancer studies conducted in 2011 show a higher incidence of cancer in women than men.
More than 53% of women were prone to cancer while the figure for men was 47%.
In Zimbabwe, the number of children with cancer has also grown over the past decade, with children being diagnosed mainly with cancer of the kidneys, eyes and leukemia, among others.
Bev Sebastian, executive director of Kidzcan, a cancer organization working to increase the survive rate among Zimbabwean children, said World Cancer Day is important for those that support individuals with cancer.
“It’s such an important area that not enough emphasis is placed upon especially when it comes to early detection and resources. In general non-communicable diseases are not given as much airtime as other diseases, and cancer in particular,” said Sebastian.
She added that in Zimbabwe there are little resources for children with cancer.
“Kidzcan is actually it; we are the only organization in Zimbabwe supporting this important area.”
Sebastian, whose organization also works with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, said the biggest challenge for the support of her organization and others with cancer is funding.
“We work with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and we continue to advocate, there is a cancer control strategy etcetera but we need to see actual money put behind this area, we need to see resources put behind this area, it’s just, there is not enough,” said Sebastian.