By Leopold Munhende
SOME 80 percent of children with different cancers are being diagnosed too late for them to be treated and cured of their ailments, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals paediatric oncologist, Loyce Hlatywayo has said.
Hlatywayo said this during a tour of the hospital’s children’s ward and handover of goodies by Palestinian Ambassador Tamer Almassri in partnership with KidzCan Zimbabwe and Kindergarten Zimbabwe.
Hlatywayo told journalists, the ward at Parirenyatwa was being overburdened as it is the only ward dealing with children diagnosed with cancer in the whole of Zimbabwe.
“This is the only unit in Zimbabwe looking after children with cancer, so everyone comes from all over Zimbabwe as far as Plumtree, Chipinge to come and seek care for childhood cancer,” Hlatywayo said.
“On average we have at least 17 patients admitted in the ward and every day we see at least 15 patients that are coming in for outpatients’ chemotherapy. What we see is that our children come very late, 80 percent of our children can actually be cured of cancer if they come in early but our situation in Zimbabwe is that they are coming in very late,” she said.
“There are what we call red flags, any abnormal mass, any lump that is growing but usually painless and not explained by infection, any loss of weight that is unexplained, any fever, any white cataract in your child’s eye, any bleeding that is unexplained,” she added.
“These are some of the red flags we would like to get to the public. We are admitting to three new cancers every week.”
Almassri urged delegates present to increase awareness on cancers affecting children after handing over toiletries and clothing amongst other stuff to the ward.
“The issue of children with cancer should be prioritised and get more support and sympathy,” Almassri said.
“We consider Zimbabwe as our second country because of our strong relations and we will be shoulder to shoulder with you in this fight.”