Zanzibar Health Minister, Hamadi Rashidi made the remarks when speaking at the opening of a free cervical cancer treatment camp at the Mnazi Mmoja referral hospital.
“The government will continue bringing into the country cancer experts to ensure quality services to its people. We will also bring health experts on different types of diseases, in our efforts to ensure a healthy nation”, he said.
Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Globally, the East African region is the leading burden carrier of cervical cancer. Tanzania is among the five countries with the highest rates in Africa.
The free cancer screening and treatment camp will last for one month. Apart from cancer, the camp aims at enabling wananchi to check their health status especially those from low income families.
“Knowing your health status helps keep to get proper medication on time”, said the Minister adding that through the free cervical cancer screening and treatment, workers at the Mnazi Mmoja hospital will enhance their capacities.
He said they have brought cancer experts from China so that they train their fellows from Tanzania. He called upon citizens to change their mindsets towards cancer and seek proper medication instead of going to traditional healers.
Meanwhile, the Director of China’s Najing Drum Tower hospital, Jasmine Qi urged women to cultivate a culture of chancing their health status regularly.
She noted that cancer is curable if treatments are sought earlier, calling upon patients to seek medication when the disease is at early stages.
Head of non-communicable diseases department at the Mnazi Mmoja hospital, Omar Mwalimu Omar said the free camp will enable the government to gather statistics on cancer patients in the Isles.
“Most of the people cannot afford to pay for cancer diagnosis, conducting free screening camps helps them to know their health status as well as start medication on time”, said Omar.
One of the patients, Mwangasama Muhammed Hassan commended the government saying such services should be conducted every year. She said free camps enable majority people to know their health status.
Last year, Tanzania achieved a historical milestone to roll out a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine against cancer of the cervix.
Launching the vaccination campaign, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said the government is commitment to ensure the vaccination target of 616,734 girls is reached and urged parents and guardians not to miss out on the ‘great opportunity’ of having their children immunized.
She reassured the public that the vaccine is safe and approved by the government and WHO; and will be provided free of charge at all health facilities. The Vice President emphasized on the importance of screening for early detection of cervical cancer which can be treated
Cervical cancer has multiple risk factors such as early marriage, multiple sexual partners, multi parity, Sexually Transmitted Illnesses including HIV infection, tobacco use, and vitamin deficiency and HPV infection.
Minister for Health, Community Development Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu reiterated the benefits of vaccines in saving lives of many children citing the significant drop in childhood morbidity and mortality due to vaccine preventable deaths over the years.
She further stressed on the need to sustain successes of the current immunization programme and intensify efforts in strengthening immunization services including cold chain monitoring and surveillance.