At least 1 200 new cancer cases are confirmed in Botswana annually, and yet the country has only one centre for comprehensive cancer treatment, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.

Image/Alvaro1984 18
Image/Alvaro1984 18

Speaking at the ‘Happy Hearts’ cancer fund-raising and awareness dinner hosted recently by the Cancer Association of Botswana in Gaborone, Masisi said the world has to declare a new war against all forms of cancer as it remains a major global health threat and cause of death.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 8.8 million people, out of a prevalence of 17.5 million, died of the disease in 2015. Between 2005 and 2015, (global) cancer cases increased by 33%, making it one of the most dreadful killer diseases after HIV/AIDS,” Masisi said.

He said in Botswana, the burden of new cases has severely strained the disease control and mitigation capabilities of the single national cancer treatment facility in the capital Gaborone.

“This (lack of facilities) means that cancer patients and their caregivers could be coming from as far as Shakawe (1 500 km north-west) for treatment in Gaborone. Yet they may not even have relatives to accommodate them during their stay (in Gaborone),” President Masisi said.

Meanwhile, the Cancer Association of Botswana and charitable community organisation Ladies Circle Botswana have started raising funds for the construction of an interim home for children affected by cancer.

The facility will accommodate sick children and their parents or guardians for the duration of their stay in Gaborone while seeking cancer treatment. The entire treatment programme takes up to 6 months, inclusive of disease treatment and psychological support services.

To alleviate the accommodation crisis faced by patients from outside Gaborone, President Masisi said the government has provided interim accommodation for 19 female patients. There are no facilities for housing male and child cancer patients from beyond Gaborone.