Pressure groups in the country Zimbabwe have called on the Minister of Health, Dr David Parirenyatwa to urgently resign.
This emerged at Zimbabwe Activists Alliance, (ZAA) Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance, (ZWIPA) march which was however crashed by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Call for the minister to step down follows reports which indicate that the cancer treatment machine, Radiotherapy, at Parirenyatwa group of hospitals has been down for 10 days.
The Radiotherapy machine is commonly used to treat cancer and it falls as the main plan for the treatment of cancer patients.
Reports indicate that the country has only three radiotherapy machines with two of the machines belonging to public hospitals. One of the machines at Mpilo hospital is said to be lying idle while the one serving Zimbabweans from all parts of the country, at Parirenyatwa is constantly breaking down.
While the cancer patients remain stranded at Parirenyatawa, the ministry of health has remained mum on the situation.
ZAA national coordinator, Linnet Tendai Mudewe said that it is disgusting that Zimbabweans are dying every day because of cancer.
“As Zimbabweans, we are very disgusted that cancer patients are dying every day because of lack of treatment,” she said.
She condemned government for its misplaced priorities saying this will cost many lives.
“Government must be very sensitive and prioritize the little resources that we have,” she said adding that that money being spent on Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s stay at a five star hotel must be channelled towards cancer patients.
According to 2014 World Health Organisation report, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are now the leading killer in Zimbabwe with 31% of all death linked to NCDs.
While Section 76 of the Zimbabwean constitution states that every person living with a chronic illness has the right to have access to basic health care services for the illness, government has dismally failed to provide proper medication to cancer patients.
ZWIPA National coordinator, Linda Musarira, said that government should take the case of stranded cancer patients seriously. She added the country must have many Radiotherapy machines.
“Radiotherapy machines must be many in the country so as to save cancer patients, “she said adding that many are dying due to the shortage of treatment.
Another ZAA member echoed the above sentiments when he narrated the case of his relative who died of cancer, attributing shortage of treatment as the main cause.
“My sister in law died because the Radiotherapy machine was not working,” he said
He added that the government must import more Radiotherapy or simply declare cancer a national disaster.
“We cannot say that government does not have money, but there is so much money being used unnecessarily ,” he said, urging government to prioritise cancer so that cancer patients will be treated free of charge.