KIGALI, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Rwanda marked World Cancer Day on Sunday with a variety of activities, including cancer screenings and raising awareness about cancer prevention among the population.
In the capital of Kigali, hundreds of residents took part in a cancer awareness walk, while cervical cancer screening and breast cancer early detection were conducted in 19 of the country's 30 districts, according to the Rwandan Ministry of Health.
Addressing participants in Kigali, Rwandan Minister of Health Sabin Nsanzimana emphasized the need for regular physical activity in the fight against non-communicable diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
He also mentioned the need to reduce alcohol, sugar, and salt consumption to fight non-communicable diseases.
He emphasized the importance of cancer screening as a critical step toward early detection and a short treatment period for patients.
Noting that early detection increases the chances of overall survival, Nsanzimana said the ministry is stepping up early detection awareness campaigns as mammography machines are being installed in hospitals to facilitate screening across the country.
"More education and outreach programs can help people understand the signs and symptoms of cancer, as well as the various screening options available to them," he said.
He noted that almost all cancers are related to lifestyle. "Healthy lifestyle can contribute significantly to prevention; what we eat, what we drink, and how we move. This important combination of lifestyle practices can help not only in cancer prevention but also in the prevention of other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes."
Cancer is responsible for nearly one in six deaths in the African region, according to the World Health Organization.
In Rwanda, more than 8,800 cancer cases were recorded in 2020, according to official data, with cervical cancer and breast cancer being the most common.
About half of people with cancer in Rwanda are unaware of their condition, leading to late diagnosis and life-threatening consequences, according to health officials.
Nsanzimana expressed the government's commitment to eradicating cervical cancer within two years through the administration of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
Phillipa Kibugu Decuir, a breast cancer survivor, also underlined the importance of increasing cancer awareness campaigns and early detection. "Understanding one's body enables prompt action when changes are noticed." ■