The First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika, on Monday expressed concern over the sharp rise in incidences of cancer in Malawi.
“Cases of cancer in Malawi are growing at alarming rates,” Mutharika said when she addressed the 4th High Level Forum of African First Ladies Against Cancer in New York, USA.
She said that Malawi was leading in the number of cervical cancer in the world, adding that the country was reporting more than 2,300 new cases per year.
“More than 1,600 women die every year,” Mutharika told the forum on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) currently underway in New York.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in developing countries. In Malawi, many women do not understand breast cancer, for instance, and may live with symptoms for years.
In most cases, by the time the disease is diagnosed, it is often too late to treat it, resulting in death.
“The loss of women due to cervical cancer is undermining the gains made to reduce maternal mortality rate,”Mutharika said.
She said for that reason, the Malawi Government had embarked on establishing working partnerships to fight cancer, and that the private sector was being mobilised to get involved.
She cited the first cancer centre under construction as proof of government’s commitment to fighting the disease.
The government had intensified awareness and education campaigns on cancers and strengthening the screen and treat approach by scaling up cervical cancer screening and maintaining their functionality, she said.
Mutharika said to complement government’s efforts, her office in collaboration with UN agencies, government departments and other partners led in the launch of ‘Stop Cervical Cancer Campaign’ to increase awareness on cervical cancer.
“I am very happy to say that there has been a positive response, with more women patronising screening institutions,” she said.
Mutharika, however, said that despite the progress the country had registered, a gap still existed in the provision of cancer services.
“Malawi still has some challenges in human resource capacity in the field of cancer diagnosis and care. I am, therefore, happy to be part of this gathering and I look forward to its successful resolutions,” she said.
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