Columnists

The cancerous choice is ours to take or not

MUKWITA

Analysis: ANTHONY MUKWITA
LAST week, our mission in Berlin issued a statement discussing the possibility of President Edgar Lungu’s government partnering with the Vienna-based global health logistics firm AME International that seeks to rehabilitate and upgrade our Cancer Diseases Hospital at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.
We believe if President Lungu’s government rose to the occasion, the development would go down as one of the milestones the pro-poor President has undertaken since taking up office.
This is because of the number of lives that would be saved once the rehabilitation occurs compared to the astronomical number of people dying presently from this non-communicable silent killer called cancer.
The International Agency for Cancer Research (IACR) is clear on how serious the scourge is in Zambia citing some 12,000 recorded cases annually and rising.
The IACR also states as a matter of fact that some 7,500 Zambian patients, almost 8,000 die annually from cancer.
When one sees 7,000 deaths, one tends to dismiss it as alright, because after all, there is about 17 million Zambians in the country. But that is wrong thinking. Especially since these deaths occur every year like clockwork and remedy is staring us right in front of our eyes.
One lost Zambian life is one too many from one particular disease, so 7,000 lives annually is unfathomable.
This is why we thank President Lungu for having started a health revolution through his keep fit regime that has gained huge traction from among Zambia that now see exercising in order to avoid non-communicable diseases as a good habit. He deserves commendation for this important keep fit regime that has now grown into a fad.
We beseech our dear President and his government to critically look at the Austrian offer to upgrade our cancer centre and save lives that are currently being lost needlessly.
We can only gain from the upgrade and rehab because we stand to cure others in the region due to our central location at a fee.
Money spent saving lives is money well spent and our President will be fondly remembered for that as he will be for many other great things since assumption of office.
We are competitively located for such a venture surrounded by eight countries in the sub-region.
Zambia has been known to lead on various regional issues such as politics and the liberation struggle.
This cancer war is a war that could earn our country and President Lungu a special place in the history of Zambia and the region.
We could save tax payers money and earn our country a reputation of being a ‘health destination’ the way India and South Africa next door is.
In the local parlance, we would like to say “BOMA iyanganepo and make cancer history”.
We know our President resents a needless loss of lives where they can be reduced or totally halted. Look at what he has done for cholera; from hundred deaths in 2018 to zero deaths in 2019 after Presidential intervention.
It is also shocking to see that effectively, more Zambians are dying from cancer today than they are from malaria if Ministry of Health statistics are anything to go by.
We must not procrastinate where a life-saving solution exists and we have a leadership that is caring under President Edgar Lungu.
There is need to look closely at the AME Austria solution.
The author is the Ambassador of Zambia in Germany.

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