By Johannes Hangula
ACCORDING to the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN), over 3 000 new cancer cases are reported every year in Namibia.
This was disclosed by CAN Chief Executive Officer Rolf Hansen at a media briefing held in the capital on Monday.
“We urgently need to address the topic of early detection through informative education that is accessible to all. Three thousand cases per annum on average may not seem a lot, given the HIV case in our country, but taking into consideration that a very basic cancer treatment plan averages at N$120 000 per patient newly diagnosed, the economic burden of N$360 million per year on a small country as Namibia is huge.
“Never mind travelling costs, never mind accommodation costs and never mind the psychological problems and destructive side effects or the post-traumatic stress that cause relationships and families to crumble. Never mind the financial and emotional ruins of death when the battle is lost,” stressed Hansen.
He further added that the Association has adopted the theme of ‘We can. I can fight childhood cancer in Namibia’ for this year. This is done due to an incline in the number of childhood cancer cases reported.
Statistics from the Namibia National Cancer Registry (NNCR) administered by CAN indicate that 493 Namibians up to the age of 21 were diagnosed with cancer during the period 2011-2014 and this was an average of 111 cases per annum for this period. During the 2015- 2016 period 63 new cases were recorded and these files are still being counted and processed and the association anticipates that 14-16 percent increase based on the year-to-year trend given the current statistics.
In the same period, the most common forms of cancer affecting children were leukemia, Hodgkin and non- Hodgkin Lymphoma; whilst cancers of the eye (retinoblastoma), bone and muscle affected many children in the country as well .There is also a sharp increment in the number of Kaposi Sarcoma case, children who have deprived immune systems, or contracted the HIV virus at birth.
On the way forward, Hansen revealed that N$12 million is being invested by the association to develop adequate centres and spaces to serve cancer patients.
“We recently purchased a residential property adjacent from our House Acacia Interim Home in Windhoek, to address the need of children undergoing cancer treatment in the capital, while mothers acting as guardians often need accommodation as well.
“Currently, mothers or guardians accompanying minor cancer patients are allowed to stay of up to two weeks in the Windhoek Central Hospital while treatment is ongoing. Therefore such a parent is left to fend for themselves. The children fighting cancer in Namibia (CHICA) interim home will initially accommodate up to five mothers; while two bedrooms are earmarked for ‘mother-and-child’ stays. Three nutritional meals will also be provided to patients and their mothers, while a psychosocial support programme will be implemented through the association’s circle of hope support programme to help ease the emotional burdens accompanying a diagnosis and treatment,” he explained.
At Acacia interim home, they are adding five more sleeping quarters for patients receiving treatment in Windhoek, leading to 35 patients to be housed during the period of treatment. Hansen further announced that the Rehoboth cancer committee is establishing a fixed office with the medical department in that town and this year the Cancer Association of Namibia is expanding its official footprint to Erongo region by opening an official branch and clinic in Swakopmund.
CAN is further investing more than N$ 4 million to upgrade and expand its head office in Windhoek to accommodate the Namibia National Cancers Registry (NNCR)- a national database that assists in effective planning and control of cancer related communications, screening and treatment.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015