Afghans spent $300m on treatment abroad: Minister
By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Commemorating the World Cancer Day, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday said that 15,000 Afghans die every year from different types of cancer.
Minister for Public Health, Ferozuddin Feroz, told media that estimated 20,000 people are affected by cancer each year while only 5,000 patients are diagnosed.
The minister further said that over one million patients visited hospitals in the country. Out of the total 900,000 were treated properly in the country and 100,000 went abroad for treatment. He added that Afghans spent $300 million on treatment in foreign countries. “Therefore, the ministry is trying its best to standardize the healthcare services and prevent the outflow of money from the country,” he vowed.
He said that the ministry is working to increase the survival rate by establishing cancer treatment facilities and awareness campaigns.
“A diagnostic center for breast cancer will be inaugurated soon at the Istiqlal Hospital in Kabul,” said Feroz. Speaking about the new primary diagnostic section at the Jamhoriat Hospital, the minister said that “cancer can be diagnosed in this center as well”.
“Although there is no specific and specialized cancer treatment center in the country, but there are many doctors who are able to diagnose all types of cancer. Radiation therapy for cancer treatment is not available in Afghanistan, but chemotherapists are available in the country,” he said.
Afghan government is taking steps and discussions are underway with the International Atomic Energy Agency to have access to radiation therapy in Afghanistan, he noted.
He said that steps would be taken to fulfill criteria essential for establishing a radiation therapy in the country. Most of the cancer patients go abroad for radiation therapy.
He said that MoPH has also sent several doctors from the Jamhoriat Hospital to China for advanced training in fields of cancer treatment.
The minister termed cancer a preventable and controllable disease and said that if people from every walk of life take part in the fight against cancer then it could be prevented and controlled.
Regular exercise and restraining from drugs were the measures suggested by the minister to public aimed at bringing down the rate of cancer deaths.
Health Advisor to the First Lady of the country, Fawzia Alam, said that health section of the first lady’s office would support the anti-cancer drive in the country.
Addressing a seminar in connection with the “World Cancer Day” last year, the health minister said that 16,000 Afghans die every year from cancer.
Regarding strategies of the health ministry to eliminate the disease, he said the MoPH would review the national control plans in order to institutionalize fight against cancer in the country.
He said the cancer could be reduced by 25 percent till 2025—the target fixed by the World Health Organization—if the preventive measures were taken.
The minister said that MoPH would take practical steps to collect data about fatal diseases including cancer in order to devise a mechanism that would help in controlling the epidemics.
The WHO said that worldwide around 8.2 million die from cancer every year. According to the WHO the number of cancer patients is going to be almost double in next two decades from an estimated 456,000 cases in 2010 to nearly 861,000 in 2030.