Government bent on cutting cancer screening expenses

VICE-President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, has said the government is firm on cutting down costs for cervical and breast cancer services as it advocates for more pre-screening health centres.

Launching a breast and cervical cancer screening at the Furahisha square yesterday, Ms Samia expressed the government’s determination to deal with diverse challenges in the health sector; including cutting down cost for cervical and breast cancer treatment to enable women enhance their health status.

“I go for regular health checkups as it put me in a better position to deal with diseases if any, including breast and cervical cancer,” said Samia.
The free screening event was organized by Medical Women Association of Tanzania (MEWATA), where the vice-president said lack of knowledge about cervical and breast cancer, local beliefs about the diseases, stigma as well as minimal health centers for radiotherapy screening are among challenges in dealing with the disease.

She said the challenges have been leading to many deaths because they are diagnosed when cancer is at an advanced stage where it cannot be cured.
She said that the government in recognizing the importance of serving women recognize the challenges that have been addressed by putting plans to stop cervical and breast cancer in collaboration with different stake-holders including MEWATA to make sure that screening services are sustainable.

The VP assured stakeholders that the government will continue to support these efforts by setting aside more budget for the health sector in order to enhance cervical and breast cancer services at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute and at the same time establish radiotherapy services at Bugando Medical Center (BMC) Mwnza and KCMC in Kilimanjaro regions in order to reduce waiting queues at the Ocean Road institute.

Ms Samia noted that Mwanza Region has made different campaigns that facilitated to reach over 70,000 women who screened for breast cancer and 16,000 women for cervical cancer last year.

The Minister for health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu said the condition of cervical cancer is alarming, as statistics indicate that over 80 percent of cervical cancer happens in underdeveloped countries.

She said that Tanzania is among countries with a big number of cervical cancer patients and is leading in East Africa. Statistics show that 6241 women are found with cervical cancer every year, and out of this number 4355 are dying.

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