Government is planning to introduce free cancer treatment for patients as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of the disease that requires specialised and expensive treatment, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said yesterday.
He said Government was establishing two centres in Harare and Bulawayo for early detection of the disease. The PM said this while addressing mourners during the funeral wake of Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association president and former University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Professor Gordon Chavhunduka who died of throat cancer on Friday.
"Cancer is a disease that has been affecting many people. This is why there has been decision by Cabinet to have free treatment of the disease and have two centres to have it detected early," said PM Tsvangirai, who is also MDC-T leader.
Cancer takes time to manifest itself in patients and by the time they notice it will be too late as the patient's health deteriorates rapidly. Turning to Prof Chavhunduka, who was chairperson of the guardian council in the MDC-T, Mr Tsvangirai said he had lost a mentor and an adviser.
"He was an inspiration to the party.
"He was full of wisdom, we regarded him as a father. We have lost the chairman of the guardian council that guided the party, we appointed him its chairman because of his wisdom," he said.
The PM said he had to cut short his visit in South Africa to attend the funeral. "When I last came to see Prof Chavhunduka, his condition had not deteriorated very much. When I heard about his death, I had to cut short my stay in South Africa," he said.
He bemoaned the continued loss of his lieutenants in the party.
He said he had just lost Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Deputy Minister Seiso Moyo, and many others. "I have buried a lot of people from my party. Nhasi zvabva zvaenda padzinde. Tarasikirwa naJena," he said.
Family spokesperson Mr Chris Mbanga said Prof Chavhunduka became ill two years ago.
"The cancer had spread to the lungs.
"He could no longer talk, he had lost his voice. When he died he was no longer eating through the mouth but being fed through a tube. As a family we say he has rested," said Mr Mbanga.
He said there was no need to consult anywhere else on what had taken his life as the cause was very clear. A service would be held today at the Anglican Cathedral in Harare at noon before taking the body to Dowa for burial tomorrow.
The event was attended by Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the MDC-T, Anglican Province of Central Africa Bishop Chad Gandiya.