“Cases of cancer in Malawi are growing at alarming rates,” Madam Mutharika said when she addressed the 4th High Level Forum of African First Ladies Against Cancer in New York, USA.
She said that Malawi was leading in the number of cervical cancer in the world, adding that the country was reporting more than 2,300 new cases per year.
“More than 1,600 women die every year,” Madam Mutharika told the forum on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) currently underway in New York.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in developing countries. In Malawi, many women do not understand breast cancer, for instance, and may live with symptoms for years.
In most cases by the time the disease is diagnosed, it is often too late to treat it, resulting in death.
“The loss of women due to cervical cancer is undermining the gains made to reduce maternal mortality rate,” Madam Mutharika said.
She cited the first cancer centre under construction as proof of government’s commitment to fighting the disease.
The government had intensified awareness and education campaigns on cancers and strengthening the screen and treat approach by scaling up cervical cancer screening and maintaining their functionality, she said.
Madam Mutharika said to complement government’s efforts, her office in collaboration with UN agencies, government departments and other partners led in the launch of ‘Stop Cervical Cancer Campaign to increase awareness and advocate for cervical cancer.
“I am very happy to say that there has been a positive response, with more women patronizing screening institutions,” she said.
Madam Mutharika, however, said that despite the progress the country had registered, a gap still existed in the provision of cancer services.
“Malawi still has some challenges in human resource capacity in the field of cancer diagnosis and care. I am therefore happy to be part of this gathering and I look forward its successful resolutions,” she said. (By Gospel Mwalwanda, New York, USA, September 19, Mana)