MP Julianna Lunguzi
Dedza East Member of Parliament Juliana Lunguzi

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Parliamentary Committee on Health Chairperson Juliana Lunguzi has expressed sadness over delays in constructing the National Cancer Centre despite the house loan authorization bill approval.The concerns comes barely a year after the Malawi Parliament approved a bill to borrow US$13 million (about MK5.4 billion at the time of borrowing) from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) fund to construct an advanced and modern cancer facility in the capital Lilongwe.

The centre was initially designed to cater for 2,000 cancer cases yearly with facilities for in-service training of oncology medical staff.

In the 2015/2016 national budget, the ministry was allocated MK150 million as Malawi government contribution while OPEC fund was to release MK1.1 billion in part fulfillment of the loan agreement.

However, the project has been embroiled into controversy as government on time changed its initial site of construction from Lilongwe to Blantyre.

This prompted opposition Member of Parliament (MPs) to protest against the move and eventually Parliamentary Health Committee recommended that the project remain in Lilongwe for access by patients referred from Northern and Southern regions of the country.

Speaking in Lilongwe on the sidelines of a cancer awareness walk in which Think Pink Malawi organized, Lunguzi who is also the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) lawmaker for Dedza East constituency said her committee expects construction works to commerce in December 2016.

But Lunguzi was worried with little progress on the matter arguing that no substantive reasons were given to her committee on such delays.
The lawmaker however was surprised to learn that health ministry is delaying the project when all in all funds were approved.

“We were promised that by December 2016, construction of the facility will start. But there’s nothing on the ground. This is detrimental towards the fight eradication of cancer which is claiming many lives.

“The awareness campaign on breast and cervical cancer screening will be much enhanced if we have our own modern facility here to serve younger and older women in Malawi”, said Lunguzi.

Sharing also on her concerns, Blandina Khondowe Think Pink Malawi founder said was worried with malfunctioning of mammograms which were installed in all three country’s referral hospitals; Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Mzuzu and Kamuzu Central Hospital.

Khondowe wondered as to why after a year such machines were installed no women have been screened on cancer describing it as a detrimental to cancer awareness campaign.

“Last year we requested from our partners to have such machines. But after we installed at our three referral hospitals, the equipment hasn’t been used yet. We are surprised as to why government is failing to train personnel to work on the machines.

“However, our message remains that early detection saves lives. Therefore, we are still calling for women and young girls to continue coming to our various health facilities for cervical and breast cancer screening”, urges Khondowe.

This is an annual event particularly in October which is a cancer month that the country excavates the disease messages as its early detection is easily curable.

Established 2013, Think Pink Malawi, a grouping of eleven passionate individuals on breast cancer, has been partnering with the ministry of health and other institutions in sensitization campaign through mobile cancer screening and detection for early treatment.

The former 2002 Miss Malawi Blandina Khondowe who once experienced the scourge of breast cancer is behind Think Pink currently in a sensitization campaign drive to women within and outside Lilongwe city.

The current Ministry of Health’s statistics shows that in Malawi more than 1,600 women and girls are dying of cervical cancer with 2,300 new cases yearly while breast cancer remains unknown to many women due to late detection.

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