Batswana encouraged to screen for cancer

Health practitioners have pleaded with the public to undergo regular cancer screenings to encourage early detection of the disease. According to statistics, only 20 percent of cancer patients out of the more than 14,668 in Botswana sought medical attention at a time their condition was in a curative state.

The rest, 80 percent, went for medical assistance when the condition was already at a severe stage. This was revealed by Dr Joseph Kasese from Princess Marina and Bokamoso hospitals at a workshop aimed at sensitising the media on what cancer is and the situation in Botswana. Kasese expressed concern at lack of advocacy for cervical cancer while breast cancer continues to affect many people. According to Dr Musimar Zola from the Princess Marina Oncology Department, another drawback is the high rate of defaults. "On average 15 to 20 percent of our patients do start treatment and don't finish it," he said. He urged patients to complete treatment because if it is not taken properly according to the stipulated cycles, relapses occur and then it becomes more expensive when the patient finally returns for treatment. Government offers free cancer treatment to all Batswana. 

Dr Doreen Ramogola-Masire, Country Director of Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP) said cervical cancer is a growing phenomenon especially amongst poor women without money to access healthcare. She added that preventing cervical cancer has enormous benefits not only to the affected women but also for the wellbeing of their families and communities.She also explained to the media about the BUP pilot-tested health service alternative called See-And-Treat-Approach. Ramogola-Masire said to date over 4,000 women from across the country have received the service, reducing waiting times and improving times access to treatment. The pilot project which combines screening and treatment, has been in place since 2009. The objective of the workshop, which was organised by the Cancer Association of Botswana, was to raise awareness by bringing information and support closer to those in need and instilling hope to the community, patients as well as their family and friends.

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