Gaborone — With Cancer being a global challenge, the fight to combat the disease, which is one of the biggest causes of death in the world, requires a universal approach that involves various actors in government and broader society.
These sentiments were expressed by the President, Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi at the Happy Hearts Fundraising Dinner hosted by the Cancer Association of Botswana in Gaborone on Saturday.
Giving a keynote address at the event held to raise funds for the proposed sanctuary for those afflicted by the disease, Mr Masisi said global statistics necessitated a 'war against cancer.'
"The whole world has come face to face with the cancer epidemic, which was the second leading cause of death globally in 2015.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 8.8 million people, out of a prevalence of 17.5 million died of the disease that year. Between 2005 and 2015 cancer cases increased by 33 per cent, making it one of the most dreadful killer diseases after HIV/AIDS," President Masisi said.
The President added that domestically, an estimated 1 200 new cancer infections were diagnosed annually, increasing the strain on efforts of national health facilities to mitigate against the impact of the disease.
"The cancer burden comes in a country where there is only one centre where comprehensive cancer treatment facility is available, that is Gaborone.
This means patients and their caregivers could be coming from as far as Shakawe which is almost 1 500 kilometres away, to receive treatment in Gaborone, where they may not have any relatives to accommodate them during their stay," Mr Masisi elaborated.
Granted this situation, it was heartening that the Cancer Association of Botswana and fellow charitable community organisation Ladies Circle Botswana had partnered to mobilise resources for the construction of an interim home for children affected by cancer.
Such a facility is envisaged to accommodate sick children and their parents or guardians for the duration of their stay in Gaborone for cancer treatment, which normally takes around six months with psychological support and tutoring for those enrolled at school among the services proposed to be rendered.
"Government has, for its part provided a building as an interim home to house only 19 female patients. Currently, there is no facility available for male patients and children, and to this end, Cancer Association of Botswana and Ladies Circle Botswana have joined hands with government, through the Happy Hearts Project, to provide the much needed accommodation," he noted.
President Masisi said he had already managed to convince a donor to commit P120 000 to the project, and with 5 575 square metres of land already secured by the Cancer Association for the proposed facility, the President pledged to continue to seek such assistance.
Furthermore, Mr Masisi said the state had increased overall health funding from over P3.5 billion in 2009/10 financial year to over P5.1 billion in the 2013/14 financial year, but still requires other sectors and individuals in society to assist.
The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele thanked those involved with initiatives to combat cancer, stating that given the rising statistics of the disease, such gestures were noble.
"We need to be proactive in fighting this scourge. Cancer has become pervasive and this calls for more action to combat the disease. The public needs to be encouraged to engage in a healthy lifestyle. Also, in addressing prevention and treatment, the government cannot cover all public health issues and needs the support of other stakeholders," Dr Madigele said.
Cancer Association patron Dr Gloria Somolekae said the construction of the new cancer home was estimated at P3 million.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>