Tendai Rupapa, Harare Bureau
African Union member States and all stakeholders have been urged to prioritise the fight against cancer which continues to kill more people than any other non-communicable disease on the continent.
The call was made by African First Ladies during a side meeting at the just-ended 23rd session of the Organisation of the African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) in Niamey, Niger, which was also attended by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, amid calls for combined effort to fight the disease.
The First Ladies said cancer contributed to the cycle of poverty on the continent, hence the need for combined efforts to curb the silent killer.
The global cancer burden is estimated to have risen to 18,1 million new cases and 9,6 million deaths, while in Zimbabwe an average of 7 000 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually.
Amai Mnangagwa is leading the fight against the disease in the country through her charity organisation, Angel of Hope Foundation.
Amai Mnangagwa, who is the country’s Health and Child Care Ambassador, pledged to continue with the fight against the silent killer in Zimbabwe.
She has devoted most of her time to the health and well-being of the nation, with many people, especially women, benefiting from her cancer awareness campaigns.
Amai Mnangagwa led by example when she got screened for cervical and breast cancer at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), as a way of motivating other women to do the same.
She has been to most parts of the country with her mobile clinic where free cancer screening was conducted.
Speaking during the meeting, Niger First Lady Lalla Malika Issoufou said cancer was a global burden which should be gotten rid of.
“We should mobilise our efforts to put an end to this silent killer,” she said.
“If nothing is done to stop this, we will record more deaths.
We cannot remain passive; we should act now.
“We should not succumb to fatality, instead we should develop a strong co-operation in the fight against cancer.
Let us unite and work towards an Africa without cancer.”
Burkina Faso’s First Lady Sika Bella Kabore pledged the First Ladies’ commitment in the fight against the disease.
“We would like to appeal to the international community, African Union, regional and sub-regional organisations and all stakeholders to assist and support the fight against cancer,” she said.
“We are calling for more resources that include funds to be channelled towards health issues that include cancer and HIV and Aids and all diseases affecting the whole continent.
There is need to support mobilisation and allocation of resources.”
Also in attendance were Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Chad President Idriss Deby who pledged their support in the fight against the silent killer.
They said Africa should unite in the fight against the deadly disease.
They also thanked First Ladies for their leading role in the fight against cancer.