MASERU — Health Minister Dr Pinki Manamolela yesterday officially launched Lesotho’s first cervical cancer treatment centre at the Senkatana Centre of Excellence.
The move will see Lesotho saving about M12 million which was being spent on cancer treatment in South Africa every year.
Lesotho sends 1 200 cancer patients to South Africa every year for treatment.
Manamolela said 60 percent of these patients are sent for cervical cancer treatment and with the government forking out an average M107 000 on each patient in South Africa.
With the cervical cancer screening project, the ministry aims to detect cancer early so that it can be prevented or treated.
“The Ministry of Health has identified an urgent need to save the millions spent on cancer treatment through embarking on sustainable prevention strategies,” Manamolela said.
“Cancers form a significant part of non-communicable diseases and causes about four percent of deaths in the country.”
She added: “Most cancers are treatable if detected early and cervical cancer is a good example of this.”
The minister said cervical cancer is the most common cancer among Basotho women at present.
There are 35 new cases per 100 000 females diagnosed with cervical cancer per year, she said.
“It is also worth noting that cervical cancers are accountable for the majority of deaths amongst women in our country,” she said.
In an effort to prevent this cancer the ministry adopted the Human Papilloma Virus vaccination programme for the prevention of cervical cancer among girls aged nine to 13 years.
The project started in 2009 and by 2012 all school girls between those ages had been vaccinated.
“The Ministry of Health will establish regional cervical cancer prevention centres in 2013 with rapid decentralisation to all district hospitals by 2015,” she said.
“It is envisaged capacity to screen other cancers at Botšabelo, including breast cancer and prostate cancer among others, will concurrently be developed.”
Senkatana Centre of Excellence, which has now been declared a centre for cervical cancer screening, is the national HIV referral
centre financially supported by Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, USAID and the Ministry of Health.