Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane revealed ‘shocking’ statistics which show that 1 in 40 South African women acquire cervical cancer each year, and up to 3 500 of them die each year.
She elaborated by adding that 1 in every 23 South African men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, and that on average 5 of them will die of prostate cancer. Simelane was presenting the health budget speech 2022/23 on Thursday before the provincial legislature.
Tackling the issue of cancer detection, Simelane said cervical cancer, which was the second most common after breast cancer, was caused by the human papillomavirus.
“The most tragic part is that these cancers are relatively easy to detect and treat if they are found early. They should not be killing the women of this province in the manner that they are,” said Simelane.
She explained that at the onset of Covid-19, the department made a commitment to screen at least 85% of all eligible women for breast and cervical cancer.
However, they were unable to achieve this goal due to having to focus most of their attention and resources on saving lives from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Nevertheless, we have striven to ensure that all health facilities in KZN during this time are able to perform pap smears to detect cancerous cells in women,” she said. “However, during the 2021/2022 financial year, when some sense of normality returned after Covid, we screened 213 000 women for cervical cancer, and of those 12 644 were found to be pre-cancerous, and were initiated on treatment.”
Tabling the budget speech, she said the department would be procuring a further nine machines.
“These we are adding to the 41 machines that we have already bought in the past financial year, and we have distributed in the rural areas or rural hospitals,” she said.
Concerning other issues, Simelane focused on men’s health, stating that elevating men’s health facilities was a priority.
“One of the key areas we made a commitment to focus on was the health of men,” she said. “We took a decision that it was high time men stopped dying due to diseases such as prostrate cancer, male breast cancer, HIV and Aids, diabetes, hypertension and many others, which are treatable or manageable when they are detected earlier.
“Through some of our engagements we have established that some men are too shy. We have decided to make a programme that will ultimately make at least 80 of our facilities men-friendly. In other words, they will cater to a number of specific health-care needs that pertain to men, including medical male circumcision, prostrate cancer, sexual and reproductive health of men, and erectile dysfunction, including the management of early ejaculation.
“Statistics reveal that 1 in every 23 South African men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, and that on average 5 of them will die of prostate cancer.”