Addressing challenges of cancer is absolutely essential

31Dec 2019
Editor
The Guardian
Addressing challenges of cancer is absolutely essential

Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss,-

-and a change in bowel movements.  While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes. Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.

Tobacco use is the cause of about 22 per cent of cancer deaths. Another 10 per cent are due to obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity or excessive drinking of alcohol. Other factors include certain infections, exposure to ionizing radiation and environmental pollutants.  In the developing world, 15 per cent of cancers are due to infections such as Helicobacter pylori, hepatitis B, hepatitis C.

Approximately 5–10 per cent of cancers are due to inherited genetic defects from a person's parents.  Cancer can be detected by certain signs and symptoms or screening tests. Many cancers can be prevented by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking too much alcohol, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, vaccination against certain infectious diseases, not eating too much processed and red meat and avoiding too much sunlight exposure. Early detection through screening is useful for cervical and colorectal cancer. The benefits of screening in breast cancer are controversial.  The chance of survival depends on the type of cancer and extent of disease at the start of treatment.  In children under 15 at diagnosis, the five-year survival rate in the developed world is on average 80 per cent.

In 2015, about 90.5 million people had cancer.  About 14.1 million new cases occur a year (not including skin cancer other than melanoma). It caused about 8.8 million deaths (15.7 per cent of deaths). The most common types of cancer in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. In females, the most common types are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer.

THE newly launched initiative worth 38bn/- ‘Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project’ will see more cancer patients seeking treatment at hospitals as services including prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment will be provided at grassroots level.

Under the project, which is to be implemented in 13 districts, Tanzanians in rural areas will have access to cancer screening, awareness campaigns and treatment at their localities. 

Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Faustine Ndungulile made the remarks in Dar es Salaam last year where the government, Aga Khan Health Service (AKHS) and the French Development Agency (AFD) signed an agreement for implementation of the project under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

The four years project aims to strengthen and expanding the quality access and capacity of cancer care services through an innovative PPP initiative. The project is co-financed by French Development Agency—29bn and Aga Khan Foundation providing 9bn/-.

We are optimistic that after the implementation period, at least 60 per cent of Tanzanians will be reached by cancer awareness campaigns following increased ecology services from prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment to survivorship especial to rural population.

Currently, 75 per cent of cancer patients reach hospital at critical stage; It is expected that  the number to drop to 50 per cent by the end of the project.

According to data from the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI)    the number of cancer patients in the country is increasing as the hospital now receives 64,000 patients annually from 30,000 cancer patients who were received at the institute in 2015.

Only 13,000 new cancer patient reach the hospital out of 42,000. Among them, 17 per cent reach the hospital at last stage, according to the Institute.

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