COVID-19: Cancer screening hampered

A new World Health Organization report has found COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the treatment of non-communicable diseases. The Cancer Alliance says South Africa hasn't been spared. It estimates about a third of the new cases has not been identified as a direct result of COVID-19. Courtesy of #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - A new World Health Organization (WHO) report has found COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the treatment of non-communicable diseases.

The Cancer Alliance says South Africa hasn't been spared.

The Alliance’s Salome Meyer estimates new cases have declined by about a third.

READ: COVID-19 could infect over 200m in Africa: WHO

About 105,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in South Africa every year.

If a third -- or about 35,000 people -- are not picked up through screening and referred for treatment, the cost of COVID-19 will be far greater than the number of people who die from it.

“So any patient that had to be referred to a treatment centre for further diagnosis, travelling across provinces, that was not possible," said Meyer.

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"What we are seeing is a decline in the number of new patients that are being diagnosed. And that is a direct result of COVID.”

She said staff in oncology units are being redirected to deal with the pandemic.

“One of the hospitals, we do know, have actually had to half their staff," she said.

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"The other 50 percent of the staff has to go and be rechannelled for COVID services and one can understand that impacts on your overall treatment plan.

"Oncologists in the public sector are really working hard to make sure that the patients that are in the system already are still being treated.”

Source
eNCA