The establishment of Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), the centre that attends to patients from all regions remains a shining example of the government commitment to saving thousands of lives.
Indeed, Tanzania is credited for being the only country in Africa offering free cancer treatment. It is reported that on average, at least 100 cancer patients are treated at the centre on a daily basis.
Basically there are two types of treatment, one being radiation to kill cells that cause cancer and chemotherapy whereby medicines are administered to patients.
The recently announced community-out-reach measure anchored in joint approach between the institute (ORCI), the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Food and Drug Authority and other stakeholders deserves support by all wellwishers. The initiative seeks to help identify cancer patients.
Medical experts at the centre sadly account that 80 per cent of cancer cases reported to them was already at advanced stage, whereby identification of early symptoms could not only simplify treatment but also increase chances of total recovery.
The level of community awareness on signs of cancer needs to be raised through such concerted efforts. Both breast cancer and cervical cancer are common in Tanzania. However, experts remind the community of the obligation to adopt basic strategies to minimize chances of becoming a cancer victim.
For example, the kind of diet taken by the majority of urban dwellers is feared to amplify chances of cancer and other diseases. Fatty foods, consumption of overly polished grains, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol taking and despise in taking fruits are among other factors ‘inviting’ diabetes, heart attack and cancer in the intestines.
On the other hand, the significance of government plan to equip the Ocean Road Cancer Institute with modern facilities cannot be overstated.
Long queues of patients awaiting treatment due to shortage of facilities complicate the situation and should be addressed promptly to avoid further loss of lives. According to the administration of the centre, at least eight radiation machines are needed but hardly two are available at the moment and in fact one remains defective.
The shortage undermines efficiency making it impossible to realize the target of attending to 250 patients a day. Cancer treatment therefore starts with community awareness on ways to evade situations that expose chances to contract the disease.