AVAILABILITY of advanced machines for treatment of cancer related complications at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) has drastically reduced the number of patients seeking treatment abroad.
Health experts at the hospital told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the number of patients referred abroad for treatment has decreased by over 70 per cent in the past 30 months.
ORCI Director of Planning Daudi Maneno said that the government disbursed 9.5bn/-, which the institute used to procure two modern machines for cancer treatment.
"These machines are highly advanced, they use 3D technology, which has greatly helped in improving treatment services," said Mr Maneno while addressing reporters ahead of the World Cancer Day, which will be commemorated next Monday.
He further said that availability of the modern machines has also helped to reduce waiting time for patients to start treatment from 12 weeks to less than four weeks.
"Patients were in 2015 compelled to wait for up to 12 weeks before commencing treatment but we have managed to reduce waiting time to six weeks and now they can wait for less than four weeks," Mr Maneno added.
ORCI Director of Cancer Prevention Services Dr Crispin Kahesa argued that availability of the modern machines and training of more cancer experts will further result into reduced number of abroad referred patients.
He said in 2015/2016, 146 cancer patients were referred abroad but the number declined to 44 in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, with only ten patients referred between July and December last year.
"This is a decrease of over 70 per cent... we are confident that the number will continue to drop to zero referral," Dr Kahesa said.
On cancer situation in the country, Dr Kahesa said that approximately 52,000 people were being diagnosed with cancer, annually, adding that about 70 per cent of diagnosed victims visit the hospital while their ailments are already at an advanced stages.
"This is a huge problem but we can combat it if people will build a culture of going for regular health checkups," Dr Kahesa insisted.
He further detailed that according to World Health Organisation (WHO) the global cancer burden is estimated to have risen to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018.
The number of global cancer burden was projected to increase to 24 million new cases by 2035 if appropriate measures are not taken to combat the disease.
ORCI Manager, Cancer Screening Services and Public Advocacy Dr Maguha Stephano said as part of the World Cancer Day commemoration, the institute has organised free cancer screening between February 2 and 4, this year.
"We will conduct screening for breast and cervical cancer as well as skin for people with albinism ... we will also provide vaccination for Hepatitis B because people with chronic viral diseases are at high risk of developing liver cancer," Dr Stephano said.
She described the theme for this year's Cancer Day "I am, I will" as an empowering call-to-action that promotes for personal commitment and represents the power of individual action to impact the future in the fight against cancer.