Zimbabwe marks breast cancer awareness month

HARARE, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The China-Zimbabwean Exchange Center (CZEC) on Thursday conducted a breast cancer awareness march in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, as the world marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The annual global campaign held in October aims to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer, which has become one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

Rudo Manomano, project manager for Social Services at CZEC, an organization dedicated to the advancement of Sino-Zimbabwean relations, and the organizers of the campaign, urged women to get screened early given that breast cancer is now the second most common cancer among women in Zimbabwe after cervical cancer.

"So today we are just preaching the gospel that early detection saves lives. If you find yourself with any symptoms that you do not understand please seek medical attention," Manomano told Xinhua after the march, which was held in the low-income, high-density township of Mbare, south of downtown Harare.

Manomano said the aim of the march was to raise awareness of breast cancer in the community.

"The other aim is to also raise hope. In this program we have looked for cancer survivors and people who are living with cancer so that they can raise hope for other people who might find themselves living with cancer so that they can know that if you are found with cancer there is still hope that you can survive," Manomano added.

Chipo Svinurai, a 62-year-old breast cancer survivor, urged women to seek assistance early. "My message to women out there is get an early examination. If it is detected at early stages, it can be treated," she said.

Svinurai added that in Zimbabwe patients who are diagnosed with cancer face socioeconomic barriers to accessing oncology care, including radiotherapy.

"For somebody who does not have money, it's a death warranty (a cancer diagnosis). Whether you are supposed to go for surgery, or whether you are going to have an investigation done, or even blood analysis, you won't access it because you do not have the money," she said.

Steadyfaith Mataga, nursing director at ZimbosAbantu Healthcare on Wheels, a mobile Medicare services provider, said in order to make medical care more accessible to the public, the organization is offering cancer screenings among other medical services to the public through its fleet of mobile clinics.

"One of our core business is to help educate the population of Zimbabwe, those who are in unreachable areas, to be aware of breast cancer," Mataga said. "Because we are on wheels, we go to where the people are, so we are bringing health education, and the actual breast cancer screening, physical screening, and then referring for any other further investigations."

In addition, she said early screening is important because cancer can quickly be detected.

"And on tracking history, you can actually pick that this one is a vulnerable person because there is a history in the family, so you then educate them, and these are the people whom we recommend to have constant mammograms and investigations," she added.

Between 2009 and 2018, cancer cases in Zimbabwe have almost doubled, according to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, a total of 16,083 new cancer cases were recorded in Zimbabwe in 2020, with the most frequently occurring cancer among Zimbabwean women being cervical cancer at 29.4 percent, followed by breast cancer at 17.9 percent.

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