WOCACA applauds efforts to eliminate colorectal cancer in Malawi

The Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA) has commended efforts by the National Cancer Centre to eliminate colorectal cancer amidst shortage of human resources and equipment at the facility.

Speaking at the Blue Hat Bow Tie Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month event held at the National Cancer Centre in Lilongwe on Monday, WOCACA Executive Director Maud Mwakasungula observed that the facility is working hard to deal with colorectal cancer, which has become another emerging public health concern in Malawi.

But Mwakasungula appealed to the Government of Malawi and its stakeholders to invest more in cancer screening infrastructure and programs, enabling early diagnosis and better treatment outcomes.

She said the rising cases of colorectal cancer incidence is a clear evidence that the country needs to increase awareness, early detection, and effective management strategies.

“Our barrier is mostly due to late diagnoses, limited screening programs, insufficient healthcare facilities to access mostly in rural areas, and pervasive lack of awareness,” said Mwakasungula.

Basikolo: Malawians need to understand and address factors causing colorectal cancer–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

The month of March is recognized globally as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and WOCACA, in collaboration with Global Colon Cancer Association (GCCA), have been amplifying efforts in educating, advocating, and build awareness on the burden of Colorectal Cancer (CRC), a leading health concern not only globally but also in Africa, and including Malawi.

Mwakasungula said colorectal cancer stands as a challenge in public health, claiming its place as the third most common type of cancer worldwide.

“In Africa, the situation mirrors the global emergency, with CRC now ranking as the fourth most common cancer. In 2019, Africa saw approximately 58,000 new cases and around 49,000 deaths due to CRC. These figures not only highlight the growing burden but also the critical need for effective prevention, screening, and treatment interventions, especially in regions where resources are scarce,” she said.

A clinician at the National Cancer Centre, Barbara Basikolo, said the facility registers three to four colorectal cancer cases every Monday.

Basikolo highlighted lifestyle-related factors such as diets high in processed meats and low in fruits and vegetables, sedentary lifestyles, obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption as some of the factors driving the spread of colorectal cancer.

“Malawi needs to have adequate human resource and equipment to conduct regular screening, especially for those over 50 years old, which is crucial for early detection and prevention,” said the clinician, adding that understanding and addressing risk factors for CRC is key in curbing its prevalence.

Meanwhile, Mwakasungula has reiterated her organization’s commitment to fighting cancer by advocating for effective prevention, early detection, and treatment strategies.

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