At least P39 million worth of health insurance claims have been paid out by medical service provider Bomaid for cancer related treatment since 2011, the organisation’s Provider Relations Manager Dr Botho Mhozya has said.
She said an annual average of 235 members utilised the oncology benefit. Mhozya said breast, prostate and cervical cancer were the most common illnesses within the group of members.
“Substantial progress has been made in recent years with regard to prevention and treatment options for certain cancers, however, cancer burden is increasing owing to a growing and aging global population as well as risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and poor dietary patterns,” she said.
Mhozya was speaking at the launch of ‘Pink Friday Campaign’, a Bomaid breast cancer awareness campaign in collaboration with the Cancer Association of Botswana (CAB) and Liberty Life Botswana.
She said Bomaid has seen it fit to partner with CAB and Liberty Life Botswana in an effort to continue to raise awareness and educate people on cancer and the importance of screening, prevention and empowering them to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Mhozya, also a Medical Adviser, attributed a significant number of cancer-related deaths to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use.
She said tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing around 20 percent of global cancer deaths and around 70 percent of global lung cancer deaths. She further said cancer causing viral infections such as hepatitis B & C (HBV & HCV) and Human Papilloma virus (HPV) are responsible for up to 20 percent of cancer deaths in low and middle income countries.
“Research shows that one third of cancer deaths can be prevented through screening tests, vaccinations and lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking. Furthermore, early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment,” she said, adding, that there were two major components of early detection of cancer: education to promote early diagnosis and screening.
“Increased awareness of possible warning signs of cancer leads to recognition of possible warning signs of cancer and finally taking prompt action leading to early diagnosis,” she said.
Mhozya said Bomaid had taken steps towards appropriately allocating resources to diagnosis, treatment and palliative care and to annually monitor the effectiveness of these interventions and its oncology benefits in line with international best practices.
Liberty Life Chief Executive Officer Lulu Rasebotsa said it was important for women to know what was normal for their bodies and to be aware of symptoms of cancer, as early detection improves treatment outcomes.
“It was important for us to be a part of this campaign as one of our covers at Liberty is Critical Illness which covers people who have critical illnesses such as cancer, sugar diabetes and HIV/Aids,” she said.
She said the Pink Friday Campaign will roll out for the entire month of October, through radio discussions, mall activations and encouraging staff members to wear pink to show solidarity and support.