First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, Mrs Esther Lungu says cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally, with approximately 14 million new cases recorded annually.
And Mrs Lungu says according to the global cancer report for 2018, the most frequent cancers in Zambia are cervical cancer, with 3000 new cases, breast cancer with 900 new cases and prostate cancer with 1,200 new cases, yearly.
She said mortality owing to cancer in low income nations such as Zambia, is pretty high.
She bemoaned that most women only get to seek treatment in cases of breast and Cervical cancers when the diseases have reached an advanced stage and as such, difficult to cure.
“Zambia has a disproportionately high mortality rate from breast and Cervical cancers which makes them priority cancers to address through improved awareness, health promotions, early detection, diagnosis and treatment in order to improve survival rates,” she said.
” The national cancer control strategic plan 2016 to 2021 seeks to expand access to breast and Cervical Cancer services to reduce mortality by 25 percent by 2025. Implementation of activities for early detection of the two cancers are critical to us achieving this goal, “She added.
And Mrs Lungu said the fight against cancer cannot be left to government alone but that it can only be won if there is concerted effort among stakeholders such as the civil society, private sector and government stating that health is the major driver of the economy and in the absence of healthy human resource, business would suffer.
She said it was important to work together to mount a stronger and more effective response to cancer which is on the rise in the nation.
The First Lady said this at the high level private sector engagement on cervical and breast cancer control meeting which was held at the Neelkanth Sarovar Premier Hotel in Lusaka this morning.
“It is my sincere hope that the meeting will gunner exceptional cancer control investment opportunities for public, private and civil society partnerships by leveraging the resources, skills expertise and experiences that each group brings to the table,” she said.
She said Zambia is leading the way and many countries are looking up to the southern African country in the fight against cancer especially with the establishment of the cancer diseases hospital.
She took time to thank the orginsers of the meeting, ROCHE, OAFLAD, The Esther Lungu Foundation and the Ministry of Health.
She said whilst cancer is a big challenge in the nation, the Zambia government has still made significant strides with among other things setting up of over 132 screening sites for cervical cancer ,which has seen over a Million women so far screened atleast once in their life.
She said over 5000 women have been offered early breast cancer detection services, vaccination of girls aged 14 with over 252, 000 vaccinated representing 76 % which is a tremendous improvement from the 59% in 2013 which shows that the vaccination program has been accepted by the communities which had been skeptical previously.
And health Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya paid glowing tribute to Mrs Lungu for taking the health of the Zambian citizens very personal through the seriousness she attaches to health programs such as the fight against cancer.