By Tadiwa Nyatanga
The National Aids Council (NAC)-sponsored Pro-Am Golf Tournament to raise money for the treatment of children’s cancers, teed off last Wednesday and ended on Friday.
The tournament, which has become one of NAC’s annual fund-raising strategies, brings together partners, stakeholders and the public in raising resources to support anti-cancer initiatives.
NAC has made commendable progress in the response to HIV, especially in providing ART to people living with HIV.
People are now living longer and becoming susceptible to other diseases, especially non-communicable ones and in particular cancer, which kills over 8,8 million people per year globally.
In Zimbabwe, over 6 000 new cases of cancer are recorded each year, with cervical cancer alone accounting for 35% of all the cancers.
Lack of community awareness has been identified as one of the major challenges that medical experts face in fighting cancer, as 80% of patients present late at stages three and four, resulting in increased premature deaths.
Other challenges include inadequate resources for cancer programmes and limited service coverage, leaving people in outlying areas with limited or without services at all.
In view of the fact that 60% of new cancer cases are associated with HIV, the NAC has embraced the cancer response and previously procured a Mammogram for breast cancer screening, anti-cancer drugs worth over US$1 million per year between 2012 and 2018. Through resources raised by the previous golf tournaments, NAC has also procured over 20 cervical cancer screening machines for identified health centres.
Speaking during a press conference to announce the sponsorship, NAC CEO Bernard Madzima said: “While there has been an increase in the number and occurrence of anti-cancer awareness and containment measures, childhood anti-cancer initiatives remain underfunded.”
Madzima said NAC decided to partner KIDZCAN to raise resources for their childhood cancer initiatives.
Speaking at the same function, Kidzcan executive director Daniel Mckenzie said challenges associated with the management of childhood cancers are huge and complex.
“As Kidzcan, we are humbled by the assistance we have been receiving from NAC,” he said.
Mckenzie said the sponsorship from NAC will go towards the procurement of medication, raising awareness, diagnostics and busfares for children with cancer and their parents when they travel for treatment.
Childhood cancers are quite different from cancers affecting adults.
They tend to occur in the organs of the body, look different under the microscope and respond differently to treatment (more favourably).
Cure rates for most childhood cancers are much higher than those for most adult cancers.
To improve the survival rate, more children need to be diagnosed at early stages of the disease and treated by a paediatric oncologist in a specialised paediatric oncology unit.