Tanzania: State Eyes Improved Cancer Screening, Treatment

THE Number of people diagnosed with cancer is expected to rise by about 50 per cent by 2030 in Tanzania, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Dorothy Gwajima has reported.

The minister revealed this during her Benjamin Mkapa Hospital official tour to inspect its inaugurated cancer unit. The 2018 government figures show cancer accounts for about 33.3 per cent of all patients in the country and the second deadliest non-communicable disease.

Citing the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the Minister said there about 50,000 cancer patients in the country, prompting the government to become committed in increasing investments to improve universal healthcare and treatment.

"The problem, however, is that 75 per cent of all these patients report to the hospital when the disease is already at an advanced stage," she said.

Experts suggest that there are no cures for any kinds of cancer, but there are treatments to minimise its pain. They say many people treated for cancer finally live the rest of their life, and die of other causes.

The minister was concerned that if no measures are taken the number of cancer patients will double, adding: "Many people fail to spot early signs or symptoms of cancer. The government continues to improve the treatment of cancer in the country, but I call upon the public to develop the habit of getting their health checked regularly so that they diagnose diseases like cancer in the early stages."

BMH Executive Director Dr Alphonse Chandika said from January to December last year the hospital admitted 814 cancer patients, of which 283 were new cases and the remaining 531 being follow-up cases.

He said the hospital referred 192 of them to the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), adding that the rise in the number of cancer the incidence in Dodoma was a result of lifestyle, poor diet, excessive smoking and lack of exercise among the member of the community.

Executive Director of ORCI Dr Julius Mwaiselage said the launch of the department at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital will reduce congestion in Dar es Salaam.

"ORCI received around 950 patients between 2015 and 2019 and in 2020 it admitted around 500 patients representing a 40 per cent decrease," he added.

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