Batswana thronged the streets of Gaborone to observe World Cancer Day, which, as Dr Pusoentsi stated, was commemorated “to create awareness on cancer and cancer related issues”.
Among the walkers was Assistant Minister of Finance and Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Gloria Somolekae, and the Member of Parliament for Shoshong, Phillip Makgalemele.
The theme this year was “Together it is possible”, a way of including the nation, as individuals, organisations (governmental and nongovernmental) to work together to at least “reduce cancer by 25 percent by 2025”.
“In Botswana, between the years 1998-2010, over 13 000 cases have been recorded. The top 3 cancers remain skin (Kaposi’s sarcoma), cervix and breast. Females are more affected than male,” said a statement from the Ministry of Health.
The Cancer Association of Botswana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other relevant stakeholders and members of the public deemed it necessary for them to walk the streets this year in commemoration of the day in an effort to create awareness to the general public while educating them in the process.
The statement further states that, “Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13 percent of all deaths) in 2008 with the low and middle income countries as the highly affected. Botswana, as a middle income country, is experiencing the emerging double burden.”
Since cancer is a non communicable disease, it does not have obvious, visible signs and symptoms therefore a thorough medical examination is often required before any conclusive evidence regarding the disease can be determined. These examinations require a certain level of expertise and are often taxing to the layman’s pocket. Cancer, therefore, is often detected at a very late and incurable stage due to these economic hardships.
In efforts to further educate the community the following have been listed as some of the leading causes of cancer in the country, tobacco use – responsible for 1.8 million cancer deaths per year (60 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries); being overweight, obese or physically inactive – together responsible for 274 000 cancer deaths per year; harmful alcohol use – responsible for 351 000 cancer deaths per year; sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) infection – responsible for 235 000 cancer deaths per year; and Occupational carcinogens – responsible for at least 152 000 cancer deaths per year.
Batswana are encouraged to stay clear of the above mentioned to reduce the risk of contracting cancer.