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Cancer Alliance Supports Launch of National Cancer Campaign

The National Cancer Campaign (NCC), announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 16 February 2018, was launched on Tuesday, 30th October 2018, in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. The campaign will focus on primary prevention and community awareness. The Cancer Alliance applauds and supports this campaign.

Cancer is one of the major Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in South Africa, and is on the increase. In 2014, the National Cancer Registry reported a total of 74 577 new cases of cancer. The actual figure is considerably higher due to under reporting despite Regulations by the Department of Health of 2011 making cancer a reportable disease.

The top three cancers among women are Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer and Colorectal Cancer, with Prostate Cancer, Colorectal Cancer and Lung Cancer the top three cancers among men.

Many South Africans are seen late in the progression of their cancers, mainly because of a lack of awareness as well as a lack of access to screening, diagnosis and treatment. Advanced cancer negatively impacts on successful treatment. Cancer awareness and screening for the top three cancers among both men and women will go a long way to reducing the cancer burden.

The Cancer Alliance calls on Government to utilise the NCC to educate the public, improve awareness of cancer, provide adequate cancer screening, facilitate access to health care provision, and ensure the availability of continuous standard treatment of cancer, in an effort to drastically reduce morbidity and mortality as a result of the current cancer burden.

In support of the NCC, the Cancer Alliance has built a centralised online resource of information for cancer patients collected from our 30 members and others. Information provided includes basic information on cancer, early warning signs and the various kinds of support which are available from NGOs. Patients are also able to report problems and issues with cancer service delivery.

Furthermore, the Cancer Alliance is proud to announce the publication of the Breast Cancer Advocacy Toolkit as part of cancer care. However, the high cost and regular unavailability of cancer care and treatment especially in the Public Health Sector are still major stumbling blocks in the way of adequate cancer control.

CANSA Shares Key Messages Communicated at the Launch:

PMB – Tuesday 30th October 2018, saw the launch of the #NationalCancerCampaign by the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and the MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, as part of the government’s plan to accelerate access to health services, particularly cancer treatment.

As CANSA, we support the Department of Health’s focus on reducing the cancer burden in South Africa through early detection initiatives. We’re extremely grateful that the Minister chose to launch this important campaign in KwaZulu-Natal considering the recent oncology crisis that the country has faced. We’re pleased to be involved in being a partner in some of the planning of the campaign and event. We hosted a pre-launch of the campaign at Grey’s Hospital earlier in 2018 and educated on the importance of lowering your cancer risk through early detection and leading a balanced lifestyle.

At the launch, just over 3 000 people attended and screening was provided for breast, cervical and prostate cancers. A CANSA volunteer and breast cancer survivor, Thokozani Mnikathi from Howick, spoke about the importance of supporting people affected by cancer. This is an important message to take note of since this is often lacking in many communities. She also spoke about the stigma that cancer patients face in many of our communities, hence the need for greater awareness about the disease and support of those who have been diagnosed.

Some of the key messages that were shared include:

The MEC said the oncology problems are fixed and that waiting periods have apparently been reduced from six months to three weeks for radiation treatment. And that there is no waiting period for children.

The National Minister added:

  • They are bringing in seven linear accelerators to be spread around the country
  • Herceptin (one of the treatment medications for breast cancer) will now be available in the public sector for R 6 000 per dose
  • The Department of Health will be changing from slide-based Pap smears to liquid-based cytology as part of cervical cancer screening
  • New smoking laws are coming into effect – nobody will be allowed to smoke in public places and cigarette vending machines will be illegal
  • The sugar tax is important in terms of its link with cancer and people should refrain from drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and rather drink water
  • Healthy lifestyle is important for reducing the cancer risk – exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, avoiding alcohol and cutting down on red meat

While CANSA is in full support of the commitments and key messages mentioned at today’s event we also urge the department to address the inherent problems within the healthcare system that includes patients’ access to timely diagnosis and treatment which is significantly compromised.

Raising awareness around cancer will result in an increase in people seeking care and unless these issues are adequately addressed, it will only serve to create further bottlenecks in an already oversubscribed and burdened healthcare system.

For more information contact:

  • Nkuli Boikutso – 083 717 2279
  • Peter Hers – 083 445 4634
  • Salomé Meyer – 079 483 3175

About the Cancer Alliance

CANSA is a member of the Cancer Alliance which is a collective group of Non-profit Cancer Control Organisations and Advocates, sharing a common goal to provide a platform for collaboration between civil society and Government towards reducing the current cancer burden.

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