Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the Department plans to run a massive cancer campaign in his Health Budget Vote speech for 2018/2019.
He also said that the department will, without compromise, target tobacco smoking and sugar intake.
In his speech, Dr Motsoaledi quoted a few portions of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address, one of them being, “We will also need to confront lifestyle diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. We will launch a huge cancer campaign, similar to the HIV counselling and testing campaign.”
Unhealthy lifestyles a contributor
Dr Motsoaledi said he’s aware that there are many causes for different cancers, including genetic and hormonal factors, but unhealthy lifestyle is also a major contributing factor.
“I am sure Honourable Members are aware that Cabinet has approved for public participation, the amendments to the anti-tobacco legislation in order to take tougher measures against tobacco.
“Please do not allow yourself to be rented by the tobacco and sugar companies to become their spokespersons here in Parliament and in the communities,” said Dr Motsoaledi.
Creating the cancer campaign
As the department plans to embark on their new cancer campaign, Dr Motsoaledi told the National Assembly that the department is consulting with stakeholders, including civil society organisations, as well as suppliers of diagnostic equipment and cancer drugs to co-design the cancer campaign.
The campaign aims to bring about more awareness and education around various cancers, especially breast, cervical and prostate cancers.
Dr Motsoaledi said, “While there are different causes for the different cancers, including genetic and hormonal factors, unhealthy lifestyles are also major contributing factors. We need to target all the causes of cancer to ensure that we have the best possible chance of decreasing their incidence.
“Cancer need not be inevitable, or a death sentence, or universally difficult to treat. We can prevent many cancers and successfully treat many of them if diagnosed early.
“Our campaign, therefore, will seek in the first instance to provide South Africans with the information that they need to prevent cancer, to self-screen, such as breast examinations, and to get tested for breast, cervical and prostate cancers, for example.”
Dr Motsoaledi added that a considerable portion of funding, which comes from the sugar tax, has been allocated to the Department of Health for the cancer campaign.