Zimbabwe: Covid-19 Tests Urged for Cancer Patients

12 February 2021

Herald Reporter

THE Government has urged cancer patients to be tested and be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Cancer treatment can lower the ability to fight the infection.

The vaccines have been shown to decrease the incidence of Covid-19.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health and Child Care's public relations department said the vaccines are ideal because of the immune compromising nature of cancer treatments.

"It is important that they be protected from Covid-19 because vaccines are essential to help strengthening the people's immune system.

"There is also a need to follow the ongoing preventive measures, everyone should continue following prevention recommendations such as wearing masks, frequent hand-washing or sanitisation and avoiding crowds," read the statement.

Patients are encouraged to discuss their situation with an oncologist for personalised guidance on treatment and vaccination.

A veteran oncologist, Dr Anna Mary Nyakabau, also said cancer patients were susceptible to the coronavirus.

"People with cancer are at increased risk of acquiring coronavirus because they have weak immune systems because of their current treatment.

"Cancer treatment can lower the ability to fight infection so we urge cancer patients to be vaccinated", she said.

There is a wide gap in diagnosis and therapy access to cancer existed between developed and developing countries. Cancer patients in developing countries are likely to suffer more from disruptions and reaching care facilities during the pandemic.

Zimbabwe will be introducing mandatory screening for cancer in certain age groups as a prevention and control strategy for the world's second leading cause of deaths.

There will also be training of oncologists and oncology nurses in Zimbabwe at the Parirenyatwa School of Nursing and College of Health Sciences and a mass immunisation programme for human papilloma virus, targeting girls aged between 10 and 14 years, to protect them against development of cervical cancer.

Statistics from Ministry of Health and Child Care shows that before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, cancer was causing 800 000 deaths per month worldwide, a number which is higher than deaths from current pandemic.

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