The task force comprises officials from the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and nutrition experts. Among its roles, the task force is required to conduct public education on the nature and causes of cancer, particularly the misconception that the disease is incurable and associated with witchcraft.
Experts say thousands of people in Tanzania are dying of cancer because they don’t report to hospitals early for proper diagnosis and treatment; while many others opt for traditional healers and go to hospitals after reaching terminal stages.
Also known as a malignant tumor, cancer involves abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body.
Possible signs and symptoms include - a new lump, abnormal bleeding, a prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements, among others. Experts say there are over 100 different known cancers that affect humans.
The task force is also going to campaign for procurement of equipment and facilities for diagnosis and treatment of cancer in different parts of the country, instead of the current over dependence of the ORCI, which is manifestly overwhelmed.
It is also hoped that cancer will soon be declared as a national disaster by the government due to the fact that the disease kills many people while its rate is rising at alarming proportions.
Globally an estimated 14.1 million people developed cancer in 2012, up from 12.7 million in 2008. And 1.7 million women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer, up by more than 20 per cent from 2008.
Worldwide trends show that in developing countries going through rapid societal and economic change, the shift towards lifestyles more typical of richer industrialised countries leads to a rising burden of cancers linked to reproduction, diet and hormones.
While rates of new cancer cases are still highest in more developed regions, death rates are relatively much higher in less developed countries because people’s tumors are often not detected and diagnosed early enough due to a lack of screening and access to treatment.
All this necessitates international, regional and national strategies to combat the global cancer upsurge. All the best.