Cancer will by 2030 leapfrog HIV, tuberculosis and other diseases by 70 per cent to become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally, Dr Emmanuel Rudakemwa, the director of medical imaging services at King Faisal Hospital, has said.
Speaking at an event to mark the end of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Kigali, on Sunday, Dr Rudakemwa said the month should also be used as an opportunity to remember and test for other types of cancer.
He said although there is still more to be done, the responsibility should not solely be left to government, advising that everyone should play a role in raising awareness since prevention is better than cure.
“In Rwanda, we still have a lot to do. With a population of 11 million people, we have one oncologist and though there other doctors who can treat cancer, the disease needs special expertise,” Dr Rudakemwa said.
The head of cancer unit at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Dr Francois Uwinkindi, said in the past 20 years, there has been a big problem of infectious diseases especially HIV.
However, he said the older one gets, the more chances of getting non-infectious diseases, calling for constant checkups if they are to be curbed.
“I can point out two cancers that affect women; breast and cervical cancers, and that’s why the Ministry of Health is focusing on fighting them but for us to effectively do this, we need to detect them earlier. There is so much challenge we face in the fight against cancer, but at least I can say we are making progress,” Dr Uwinkindi said.
Charlotte Gaston, a breast cancer survivor and nurse at King Faisal Hospital, said the journey is hard but it can be avoided if the disease is detected early enough.
“In February last year, I just decided to have a check up. I was shocked to find out that I had breast cancer. When I went back home, I examined myself and I noticed a lump but luckily it was in its early stages,” Gaston said.