Some 31 in 100 Batswana are overweight - a study by the Ministry of Health and Wellness has found out.It also established that 18 percent smoke, 26 percent drink alcohol; 20 percent do not engage in enough physical activity and about 95 percent do not eat enough servings of fruits and vegetables given in a day.
Speaking during the World Cancer Day commemoration in Mochudi early this week, Dr. Bonolo Mhaladi of the Oncology department at Princess Marina Hospital urged Batswana to join hands in fighting the deadly scourge that Cancer has become. He lamented that studies conducted thus far have failed to identify the cause of the disease but have found out what could increase the chances of getting Cancer, which are collectively known as “risk factors”. A risk factor, he said, is not a cause but it increases the probability of having any form of cancer. They include; cigarette smoking, obesity, Immuno compromised state (HIV, Diabetes etc), advanced age, gender and mamily history of cancer.
He advised that people within this hierarchy should be careful and beware that they have a possibility of getting Cancer at one stage in life, so they should take care of themselves and do thorough checkups whenever they suspect something. He said this could help in treating Cancer while it is still at an early stage. Dr Mhaladi reiterated the importance of taking note of these risk factors for people with Cancer to lead a certain lifestyle.
He said that reducing alcohol consumption especially strong beverages (especially 43 percent), looking out for the body mass index and losing weight, quitting smoking or any contact with cigarrette smoke, watching diet and getting a balanced diet with essential nutrients and exercising are essential in a Cancer patient’s life.Health Minister Dr. Alfred Madigele said it is estimated that 1400 new cases of Cancer are diagnosed annually in Botswana. He said 70 percent are often diagnosed late when there is little chance for cure and treatment is more expensive and uncomfortable for the patients.
As for the top most commonly diagnosed Cancers in Botswana he mentioned Kaposi Sarcoma (Skin cancer), Cervical, Breast, Oesophageal, and Prostate cancers. Dr. Madigele lamented that over the past years, Cancer as a Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) has taken over in Botswana unlike previously when it was common in developed countries. He called on Batswana to ensure that they fight non-communicable diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes. The minister outlined some of the services such as health promotion, disease prevention and treatment services for Cancer and other NCDs that his governent provides for all citizens.
He mentioned the multisectorial national NCD strategy (2018-2023) and the quality health services across the country for prevention, early detection and treatment of various forms of Cancer such as See and Treat, and Pap Smears so that Cancers are detected and treated at an early stage. He said these services are offered in 45 facilities across 26 districts of the country.
Furthermore Dr. Madigele said the turnaround time for pap-smear has been improved to four to six weeks from two months. The ministry is also vaccinating young girls from nine to 13 years against cervical cancer as well as doing awareness campaigns on breast cancer dubbed ‘Itse mabele a gago’. Cancer survivors applauded both the government of Botswana through the Ministry of Health and Wellness and Cancer Association Botswana for being there for them and the efforts that they do to beat this scourge.