When he was a guest speaker at the Cancer Association of Botswana (CAB) website launch this last month, the Minister of Health, Reverend John Setlalekgosi, promised that the CAB and the Ministry of Health (MoH) would continue to work together in the future.
Now the two are currently embarking on a journey to visit the old Francistown Stadium where they are to carry out a public cancer awareness campaign.
Statistics given by the Botswana National Cancer Registry (BNCR) from the period of 1998-2008 shows that 11 363 Batswana to have been affected by different types of cancer in this era alone.
Cancer in Botswana has been responsible for the deaths of about 2 934 men, women and children during the above mentioned period. The MoH reports that by the year 2010, the number of Batswana affected by cancer rose to 13 314 and the deaths caused by cancer also increased to 3 627.
The theme of the campaign, which is ‘Cancer Can Be Prevented Too’, is an activity by the MoH that stems from the ministry’s mandate of taking health to the nation.
Temba Sibanda, the Principal Public Relations Officer at the MoH, said that the objective of the event on the 28th of April is to raise public awareness on cancer through health education on the risk factors, prevention and control of cancer.
The activity, he said, is also held to remember those who had been affected by the disease, their pain and suffering.
Sibanda said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that of the 12 million cases of cancer worldwide, 60 percent are in middle income countries, Botswana included.
WHO estimates that 40 percent of the cancers in these countries can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes, such as ending tobacco use, reducing alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy weight and diet.
This might not be good news for Batswana who have a history of indulging in risky lifestyles.
Sibanda referred to a study carried out in 2007 which showed the risky lifestyles that Batswana indulge in.
“38.6 percent of the adult population was found to be overweight or obese, with 53 percent of those being women. Ninety-six percent of the adult population did not consume the daily recommended portion of 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetable. The increases in risky behaviour are attributed to the rapid urbanization of our society, hence the need for continuous health education to bring behavioural change,” said Sibanda.