Malawi paper backs doctor’s call for improved cancer diagnosis: ‘Prioritise investment in health’ 

Malawi’s leading private-owned daily newspaper, has used its editorial comment to throw its weight behind calls for the country to invest in advanced  medical technologies  to be able to attend to some critical ailments such as cancer.

During one of the cervical cancer screenings at Kang’oma

In its editorial, The Nation was commenting on calls from anatomical pathologist and epidemiologist Dr Tamiwe Tomoka, who works for the University of North Carolina(UNC) Project-Malawi at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, who  has said the late diagnosis for cancer speaks volumes about the magnitude of challenges facing cancer treatment in the country.

The paper pointed out that her call comes in the contest of continue foreign referrals for cancer treatment, mostly radiotherapy, to countries as far as  India and indeed as closer hoem as Zambia.

Data from Ministry of Health show that there are 336 patients on waiting list to be referred to India for treatment. From the list, 86 have different cancers, representing 26 percent.

In her  post on Facebook, Tokoma appealed to President Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance administration to develop robust cancer clinics by speeding up the construction and operationalisation of modern cancer clinics to save lives and serve hundreds of patients locally.

Tomoka made  the appeal in the context of the President’s pledge to help musician Patience Namadingo raise K3 million to enable cancer patient William Kachigamba, an artist, to travel to Zambia for medical treatment.

She wrote: “Mr President, this cancer centre [at KCH in Lilongwe] falls short of being a comprehensive cancer centre at so many levels. The centre is heavily understaffed, being served by two oncologists and a handful of nurses and support staff.

“The centre provides limited chemotherapy only as a mode of cancer treatment. There are no radiotherapy services yet majority of our cancers are advanced and a good number of our patients would greatly benefit from radiotherapy.”

And the newspaper comment said cancer is just among the many health challenges facing the country and requiring investment in appropriate technologies to ensure that medical personnel serve people to the best of their abilities thereby saving lives.

“We, therefore, appeal to the Malawi government to prioritise investment in health facilities, health resource and incentives to ensure that service delivery is up to the desired standards.

“In the case of cancer the need for investment in human resources cannot be overemphasises as there are few oncologists attending to thousands of cases,” the paper stated.

It said the expectation is that the plea by Dr Tomoka and many others will be positively considered in the quest to improve delivery of services to save lives.

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