MALAWI. Lilongwe: A Pathologist with the University of North Carolina Project in Malawi (UNC) Dr Tamiwe Tomoka has decried a lack of adequate personnel, infrastructure and adequate information to the poor as setbacks facing the country in the fight against cancer.
Dr Tomoka who is also the co-director of the UNC cancer Project spoke to Transcontinental Times recently on the sidelines of a cancer symposium in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe.
“We only have three pathology laboratories two of which are public and the other is private. Of the two public laboratories one is in Blantyre, one in Lilongwe. The Lilongwe facility services the central and northern regions of Malawi ,which is half the population,” said Tomoka.
Malawi has an estimated population of 19 million.
She further added that currently the country only screens cervical cancer but plans are underway to start screening breast cancer which among the most common types of the disease in the southern African country.
Specialised Cancer Centre
Malawi has a specialised Cancer centre located in Lilongwe , near the main referral hospital Kamuzu Central. Currently Malawi has three practising oncologists and are based in the main referral hospitals.
On accessing information on treatment of the disease, the pathologist said that only the elite have access to information on the symptoms of the disease and how to get medical attention.
According to Health Minister Khumbidze Chiponda, the facility only conducts radiotherapy but plans to go into chemotherapy by end of this month.
Foreign Medical Referrals
Most of Malawi’s foreign medical referrals mainly to India and South Africa are cancer related illnesses.
According to a 2014 report by the World Health Organisations ( WHO) on Malawi Cancer Incidence, the country had 151,000 cancer deaths annually.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the United States of America through its Institute of Global Health in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Malawi established the UNC project as a centre for research on various diseases including Cancer and HIV/AIDS.