Hon Chair and hon members, cancer is said to be one of the world's leading causes of premature deaths and disabilities, with massive impacts on the global economy. The American Cancer Association contends that the total economic impact of premature deaths and disabilities resulting from cancer is 1,5% of the world's gross domestic product.
The Goldman Sachs Report states that South Africa's contribution to the world's GDP is 0,5% and that Africa's total contribution is 1,5%. This paints a very bleak picture. In fact, South Africa's total contribution to the world's GDP is less than what the American Cancer Association's estimated as global loss due to cancer.
We all know that early detection increases chances of survival. However, optimal early detection can be achieved where there is adequate access to functional health care facilities. Cancer survival in South Africa is linked to the individual's economic status and indirectly to their race profile.
We have reports that white women for instance, have a high incidence rate of certain cancers, in the same breathe we will have black women having an even higher rate of mortality from the same type of cancer. The multitudes that are without medical aids have little chances of having their cancer detected at an early stage; and even a slimmer chance of getting the medical care they need when diagnosed.
It is critical that government removes barriers to cancer detection and treatment. For instance, in South Africa we have statistics that will show a significance increase of cervical and breast cancer amongst women in their 20s, yet when a young woman takes the initiative to have herself checked at a public facility, she will be told that the cervical cancer detection is for women over 30, and that even then they are only entitled to one test every five years.
There are public messages that the incidence of prostate cancer is steadily on the rise in South Africa, but we hardly ever see public campaigns aimed at encouraging men to have themselves checked. If we are to curtail the impact of cancer in our economy and in our society, we need to exhibit commitment towards responding effectively. There are many studies published that contend that marijuana or dagga may be used in treating the side effects of cancer or in treating it.
Therefore, we hope that the stance towards having marijuana legalised for medicinal purposes, is but one of government's responses to the cancer impact. We in the UCDP support the fact that doctors be permitted to innovate and alternate cancer treatment, as different ways and means to assist, help and lead the nation. The UCDP supports the fact that other avenues be tried in order to save lives. I thank you. [Applause.]