Health System Struggles with Diseases

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The total burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases which plague the Namibian nation has increased over the past years and continues to be a huge challenge to the country’s health system. So said Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, who was the keynote speaker at the launch of a campaign against skin cancer yesterday in the capital. The second campaign of its kind, Save Your Skin, is organized by the Cancer Association of Namibia, Standard Bank and Fabupharm. “While HIV/AIDS still enjoys the most attention and focus, as it remains the leading cause of death, I know that other illnesses such as skin cancer – the number one cancer in Namibia – is not ignored. The government is committed to the achievement of health for all Namibians by making health-care accessible, affordable and equitable. “However, it is not always possible for the government to be everywhere all the time. That is where partners such as Standard Bank, Fabupharm and the Cancer Association are welcomed with opened arms,” said Amathila at the launch of the campaign. According to her, the World Health Organization’s recent report states that over 60ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 deaths occur annually due to skin cancer, of which 90 percent are primarily caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. “Namibia is affected by a double burden of diseases. On the one hand, we are still plagued by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, and on the other hand, we are increasingly faced with diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, injuries and various cancers. We must work to curb these illnesses by working together through strong partnerships,” she urged. The managing director of Standard Bank, Theo Mberirua, told those present that his bank jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the skin-care campaign. “Skin cancer in Namibia is increasing rapidly, and all of us are at risk especially outdoor workers and sportspeople, as the sun makes no distinction,” said Mberirua, who was alluding to the fact that over the past 11 years skin cancer has increased 400 percent in Namibia and South Africa. He warned Namibians of the constant danger of being in the sun for too long at a time, quoting research data that, after eight minutes in the sun without protection, serious damage can be caused to the skin. “Standard Bank has a responsibility in terms of the health of the nation, and this year we have supported various health initiatives to the tune of N$370ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. We have supported this skin-care project with an amount of N$100ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 to help prevent skin cancer,” the bank’s MD said. He also announced that his bank has financed an amount of N$50ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 for special hats to be sold by the Cancer Association to school children during the campaign for protection against the sun.