In the next two months, the government is expected to come up with national guidelines to streamline cancer treatment in the country, a senior cabinet minister has revealed.
Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children minister Ummy Mwalimu (pictured) said yesterday the new plan comes as a major boost to cancer treatment in Tanzania. She was addressing a press conference in Dodoma ahead of World Cancer Day, which is due to be marked tomorrow.
Globally, cancer now kills about 8 million people every year, according to the World Health Organisation.
Ms Mwalimu said the guidelines, which have been developed by the government with the assistance of cancer stakeholders, would help to determine how and where the government must intervene in dealing with cancer and drawing up the cost of treatment for the disease.
She cited data collected by the health ministry from the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) and other hospitals in the country which showed that 50,000 new patients are diagnosed with cancer in the country every year.
‘At ORCI, more than 13,000 cancer patients were reported to have cancer by the end of last year, this number has increased from 9000 cases in 2014,’’ she said.
However, the minister admitted that the data which is currently being cited by the government is only hospital-based and not reflecting the true picture of the cancer burden in the country.
The minister acknowledged the gap in data collection after a question raised by The Citizen to the minister on when the government would come up with a well-researched cancer registry instead of relying on hospital data for planning interventions.
“We are taking this up as a challenge. But, in the coming months, we will partner with various researchers from local and international agencies on drawing up the cancer registry. In fact, this is what would enable us to plan well for cancer interventions,’’ she responded.