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Govt urged to introduce cancer levy


Harare (New Ziana) -The Zimbabwean government should consider introducing a levy to be used to subsidise the high costs of cancer diagnosis and treatment, an official has said.

This is in light of the increase in new cancer cases and high mortality rate, which have seen the disease, which is technological and capital intensive, overtaking HIV and Aids as the country’s number one killer.

Cancer Association of Zimbabwe (CAZ) information, research and evaluation officer, Lovemore Makurirofa said his organisation was recommending the introduction of a fund similar to the Aids levy, as well as to apoint a commission to manage it.

“Maybe we can have a cancer levy or one of the interventions is actually for us to have a health insurance scheme that will cater for cancer patients. We think that coming up with a separate cancer fund and a board or a team that oversees that fund is the way to go because cancer is a unique disease. It is technologically intensive in terms of its management, it is also capital intensive and as result it should be treated separately and we need a team that oversees that,” he said.

He said the government should also consider reviving social protection systems to assist people with cancer to assist the less privileged to access cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“The majority of cancer patients that we are seeing as the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe are vulnerable patients. Remember people do not have savings in the current economic situation and when they are diagnosed with cancer they are likely to spend all they have in cancer treatment and they end up being very vulnerable. They need to be protected through social protection systems, the safety nets of the country,” said Makurirofa.

Zimbabwe used to have travel warrants that were issued to patients in rural areas to go to urban centres for treatment without paying bus fare.

The country also used to Assisted Medical Treatment Orders (AMTOs) which were very functional for patients to receive treatment at public institutions for free after they were deemed to be vulnerable.

The Department of Social Development (formerly the Department of Social Welfare) operated these social protection mechanisms.

“I think these need to be revived for the benefit of the cancer patients and also other segments of the population which are vulnerable,” Makurirofa said.

There is also need, he said, to decentralise cancer services, which are currently centralised in the capital Harare and Bulawayo, meaning patients have to travel long distances to access these.

According to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry, in 2018 Zimbabwe recorded 7 841 new cancer cases and 2 743 cancer deaths.

The deaths are increasing and among the incidences the majority of them are women, that is 57.9 percent, and also among the deaths 54.5 are women.

Zimbabwe has earned plaudits for its efforts to prevent and end HIV and AIDS with much of the success being credit to the AIDS Levy which has enabled the accumulation of funds for use in the fight against the pandemic.

New Ziana


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