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Childhood cancer intervention hailed

The National Aids Council (NAC) recently hosted a  golf tournament to support childhood cancers initiatives led by local organisation KIDZCAN Zimbabwe.

Below are the remarks by NAC board chairperson Margaret Mehlomakhulu, who was the guest of honour at the tournament’s prize-giving ceremony held last week at the Harare Golf Club.

I feel highly honoured that I have been asked to be the Guest of Honour at this climax event, marking the end and prize giving ceremony for the 2021 NAC Pro-AM Golf Tournament.

Before I proceed, I would like to remind you all that Covid-19 is still with us and therefore we are all behoved to continue observing government and World Health Organisation (WHO) safety guidelines and measures. I am glad to note that our seating is compliant to the social distancing requirement and that we are all wearing face masks.

Ladies and gentlemen, this prize giving ceremony comes at the end of a busy three days, filled with aims, misses and holes, all in the name of supporting childhood cancers initiatives, led by KIDZCAN Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe as you will be aware has recorded tremendous progress in the response to HIV over the years, especially in HIV prevention, where the country has deployed a coterie of interventions, both biomedical and social.

On the basis of these interventions, Zimbabwe managed to turn the tide on new infections, and reduced both the incidence and prevalence towards epidemic control. At the same time, the number of people living with HIV accessing antiretroviral therapy has increased, giving an opportunity to our people to live fulfilling lives again, while participating in social and economic development of the country.

The longevity based on widened access to ART has given way to new health challenges especially non-communicable diseases. One of the diseases is cancer and its prevalence has been rising among our people especially among women. While women are the most affected through cervical cancer, which accounts for 35% of all cancers in the country, men and children are also affected and often times die silently as the national focus is yet to be fully zoomed on this and other related diseases.

I am, therefore, very pleased that the National AIDS Council together with the Zimbabwe Golfers Association and their partners have taken this initiative to support KIDZCAN Zimbabwe in raising resources to scale up childhood cancer prevention and treatment initiatives.

In addition to prevention and treatment of childhood cancers, there is need for wholesale community awareness initiatives to ensure that challenges related to late presentation at health centres for services.

More than 80% of cancer patients present late at stages 3 and 4, resulting in increased premature deaths. Other challenges that our country faces include inadequate resources for cancer programmes and limited service coverage, leaving people in outlying areas with limited or without services at all.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to commend the National Aids Council for integrating both Covid-19 and Cancer in their portfolio of services, given that these diseases usually are related and often times require similar structures and experience to address them. In fact, evidence has shown that 60% of new cancer cases occur among people living with HIV. I am very glad and pleased that, through proceeds of previous golf tournaments, they have procured cervical cancer screening machines for identified health centres. They deserve our applaud for spending millions in USD over the years, procuring a Mammogram and anti-cancer drugs and supporting public screening and awareness initiatives across the country.

The idea to introduce the golf tournaments in support of both HIV and cancer is therefore very noble given that association and the obvious inadequacy of resources that our country faces. The golf tournaments, ladies and gentlemen, will not be adequate to raise the required amount of resources. In this regard, I would like to call upon all stakeholders especially the captains of industry to continue supporting such causes through various avenues so that our health sector is adequately resources. One of the ways they could support might be in the form of cancer diagnostic equipment procurement and maintenance and adoption of all antiretroviral therapy clients at district or provincial hospitals the corporates operate. The actual scope for public private partnerships in this regard is wide and can be structured to provide win-win benefits for both the communities and corporates.

I am glad that this tournament has raised more than  the USD 52,000 requested by KIDZCAN Zimbabwe. Let us all clap hands for that achievement! I hope KIDZCAN will put the resources to good use.

The past three days were fun and competitive, but as the adage goes, every good song should come to an end. The end of the 2021 NAC Pro-Am Golf Tournament has come. It is therefore now time for the prizes!. Just to remind you, the prize money for the 2021 Pro-AM NAC Golf Tournament is a mouth-watering USD 50,000!

Ladies and gentlemen, we are all winners today even though onIy a few will walk away with the actual prizes.  The victory is in having participated and wiped your brow, all in the hope that a prize will come, and that if it doesn’t, we have all supported a worthy cause. We all have a role to support childhood cancers prevention and treatment initiatives.

Congratulations to the prize winners. Those who won’t walk away with a prize, I am told the tournament will return bigger and better next year and you can

I thank You!

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