Zimbabwe commemorates International Childhood Cancer Day

KidzCan led the nation on 15 February at a colorful ceremony at their Head office in Harare in commemorations to mark International Childhood Cancer Day where it was noted that a 60% survival rate for children with cancer is achievable.

The commemorations which were held under the theme ‘Better Survival’ is achievable  ‘through your hands’ serve as both a national and global platform for the community of nations to raise awareness, celebrate achievements made thus far in taming childhood cancer, and express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors and their families.

In his address guest of honor, Dr. John Mangwiro who is the  Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) said, through a representative, Dr. W Nyamayaro  Director Non-Communicable Diseases for Health and Child Care) that a 60% survival rate in children suffering from cancer was achievable under the Childhood Cancer Initiative. 

“The Childhood Cancer Initiative and The Zimbabwe National Cancer Control Plan aim to ensure the availability of drugs as and when required review the referral pathways, assess the hospitals’ capacities to do the necessary diagnostics as well as integration of childhood cancer into national strategies, health benefits packages and social insurance schemes. All these measures will see the management of childhood cancers improve significantly, and the attainment of the 60% survival rate by 2030 a reality,” said Mangwiro.

Dr. Mangwiro further implored parents to take sick children to health facilities for timely diagnosis since cancer is curable if detected early.

This follows reports that in the developed world 8 out of 10 children diagnosed with cancer survive while in contrast, only 20 % in the low and middle-income countries, which include Zimbabwe, do not make it.

Speaking at the same event World Health Organisation (WHO) country Representative Dr. Alex Gasasira represented by Dr. Tsitsi Siwela commended the MoHCC for showing interest in becoming one of the focus countries for the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC) in the WHO AFRO region. 

This initiative enables the countries to access technical and financial support to strengthen the health systems and raise awareness of childhood cancers.  

“WHO looks forward to working with the government of Zimbabwe, and other stakeholders, to come up with a sustainable childhood cancer program that will improve chances of survival for children with cancer in the country and reduce their suffering,” said Gasasira.

The National AIDS Council (NAC) also present at the commemorations, said through the CEO Dr. Bernard Madzima that his organization had partnered with KidzCan through a Golf tournament which raised more than us$100 000 for the purchase of pediatric cancer drugs last year and the facility is still in subsistence.

“NAC has noted the challenges faced by children diagnosed with cancer. Thus in 2020 NAC took a deliberate effort to partner with KidzCan after noting the great work which they are doing in assisting Parirenyatwa Central Hospital especially Ward A4 Special in providing chemotherapy medicines, radiological services, and other things which children might need as they aim to recover from cancer. I am glad to say that as we speak KidzCan is drawing from this facility and are buying drugs for children with cancer.” Said Madzima.

Also in solidarity, at the event, St Jude Children’s Hospital representative Professor Nickhill Bhakta pledged to continue working in partnership with KidsCan in coming up with solutions in helping children.

KidsCan Executive Director Mr. Daniel Mackenzie was appreciative of the support extended by various partners in the fight against childhood cancer and implored all stakeholders to continue raising awareness and soliciting support for this noble cause.

“Tracy Chapman once said ‘If not now, then when?’’ He said.

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