Rwandans have been called on to practice sports and maintain hygiene in a bid to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including some cancers that are related to poor hygiene.
The call was made on the occasion of World Cancer Day celebrated on February 04. National celebrations were held in Gisagara District, Southern Province and were marked with mass sports and NCD screening.
“Sports should become your lifestyle as it is instrumental in preventing NCDs. Treating NCDs is quite expensive yet prevention comes at no cost,” advised Health Minister Diane Gashuma.
“We should as well maintain good hygiene, it should be a habit. Some cancers like mouth cancer are caused by poor physical hygiene,“ she added.
Southern Province governor Rose Mureshankwano also tipped people attending the sports event that exercise would help them live a more productive disease-free life.
The Health Minister also announced a free hepatitis-C screening and treating exercise that will kick off soon, starting with Gisagara district. People who test positive will be given the costly treatment (one dose costs Rwf 900,000) free of charge.
Over the past years, Rwanda has made progress in preventing and treating NCDs. Key initiatives include decentralization of cancer and NCDs services, running awareness campaigns on prevention measures like early screening, vaccinating girls from 12 and above against cervical cancer (93%), making mass vaccination against hepatitis-B and providing at least one screening opportunity annually for women (40) and men (45) years and above.
Cancer is a leading cause of mortality globally. In 2012, 14.1 million new cancer cases were reported and the number is projected to increase to 24.6 million by 2030. In Rwanda, there were 6,181 cancer-related deaths, according to Globocan Data.