President for the Society of Medical doctors in Malawi, Dr. Victor Mithi, has pleaded with the new administration led by Lazarus Chakwera to prioritize the making the national cancer centre operational so that cancer patients can start being treated in the country.
In an interview, the health right activist and and medical researcher at the University North Carolina (UNC) described the delay in making the centre functional as worrisome as billions of Kwachas keep on being spent on cancer referrals to other countries.
He said, once the centre becomes operational, cancer patients will breath a sigh of relief because most of them last to die in silence due to the costs that would incur on their treatment abroad.
“We’ve the human resource and even if the centre can be opened today. We’ve people versed on the treatment of cancer but they’ve nowhere to work. I urge the new government to walk the talk on the issue of making the centre operational,” said Dr.Mithi.
He added: ” the structures are already in place but we need it to be fully equipped so that it becomes usable. It is my hope that the new government will consider the plea.”
Malawi government spends about MK1 billion annually on referral treatments abroad. Out of the amount, 40 percent is spent on referrals for cancer treatment. The launching of the cancer center is expected to lessen the cost burden.
The need for the national cancer centre came after research conducted by the ministry of health established that less than five percent of cancer patients in Malawi have access to radiotherapy treatment.
The research further revealed the rise in cases of cancer among Malawians and all the patients have to travel abroad for treatment.
The cancer centre has been missing all the deadlines for its completion due to what Dr. Mithi believes to be political interference and lack of the will power.
“Moving forward. I want to see the new government taking this issue of cancer centre seriously. We need to Start offering radiotherapy services in Malawi,” commanded Mithi.
On the other hand, the College of Medicine and Chancellor College graduate suggested that once operational, the facility should run independently with its on board of directors to avoid monopoly of resources.
“We need to make sure that the cancer centre is pumped with full human resource. We can find ways of finding other people to come and start working,” he added.
Meanwhile, the cancer centre is offering out patient services to cancer patients but Dr. Mithi is of the view that government makes the facility fully operational.