When will the National Cancer centre become fully operational?

National Cancer centre

Construction of the National Cancer centre which is situated within the Kamuzu Central Hospital campus, started in March 2017, and the groundbreaking ceremony was presided over by former President Peter Mutharika.

While acknowledging that the construction of the facility was long overdue, he pledged that his administration would make sure it was completed within a one and half a year period.

With a lot of the cases especially among women; the commonest being breast and cervical cancers, translates to more patients accessing specialized treatment once it becomes fully operational.

According to University of North Carolina (UNC) Project statistics, the country’s Cancer prevalence rate stands at about 19,000 new cases every year being diagnosed out of which about 13, 000 are prevalent every year with 2500 deaths registered.

UNC Malawi Cancer Program Dr. Tamiwa Tomoka said this could be an underestimation which get a pathological diagnosis and enter the cancer registry, but there are areas which make diagnosis clinically, but don’t feed into the registry

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Mutharika being briefed on the architectural designs of the project in this March 2017 file footage

Although the Cancer centre opened in May 2020, it has structures which still need to be developed such as those dealing with radiotherapy while chemotherapy is limited.

Currently, children with different types of Cancer are admitted at the centre and receiving treatment.

Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda told delegates to the 3rd cancer symposium on 26th May 2021 what was remaining was to install the bunkers for radiotherapy to be fully carried out.

Chemotherapy treatment is currently being administered to patients and there was an expectation that adult admissions will commence in July 2021.

According to authorities then, the centre located in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe was expected to be fully operational as of June 2022.

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Chilima captured after touring the facility with Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo

Fast forward to this year’s 4th Cancer symposium on 19th September Deputy Health Minister Enock Phale indicated that Malawi is making progress to ensure the National cancer centre is fully operational as currently patients are receiving chemotherapy.

“What remains with Malawi is the radiotherapy. For us to do provide the radiotherapy services we need to have bunkers and that is a specialized infrastructure whose consultations are on-going.

“We’ve done almost over almost 95 percent of the process and this involves procurement processes. We’re sure with the timeline that we’ve given ourselves that by 2023, we should see that facility up running. We’re just waiting for few other stakeholders also to have their input in terms of the procurement processes”

It remains to be seen if the 2023 deadline will be met as such pronouncements have been made before.

Among the adult population, the top five common cancers in are Kaposi’s sarcoma at 34 percent, Cervical cancer at 25 percent, Esophageal cancer at 12 percent, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 6 percent  and Urinary bladder at 3 percent.