Hon Chairperson, cancer is the sixth highest cause of death in South Africa. This indeed is a very worrying statistic because more than half of our population is living below the poverty line; thus, their access to quality health care can at times be limited and compromised. The health care fraternity must be friendly, and must not undermine the quality of health care to the previously disadvantaged communities. We want to laud the efforts of the ANC for progressively delivering health care to the most deserving.
There is a direct correlation between poverty and cancer. Early detection and ultimate treatment of the disease could save millions of lives. We need to make sure that we are disseminating the relevant information to every sector of our society. Firstly, I would like to commend the hon Ambrosini for boldly sharing his personal appeal to the President in this House. Your conviction and passion is an inspiration. You served as a relevant reminder of the millions of people who suffer from this disease. Therefore, the MF would like to take heed of the number of people who are affected. We urge the Department of Health to strengthen their resolve to enhance the prevention, early detection and ultimately the cancer treatment, specifically in poor and destitute communities.
Remember that poverty does not see face or race. It attacks almost anyone who comes in front of it; leading to the other health complications like the challenges we are confronted with. Let us not forget that it is these communities who suffer the hardest. We must not allow them to be further marginalised simply because of their socioeconomic status.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers. Over 16 million women over the age of 15 are at risk. Therefore, we laud the Minister's announcement that government will provide for free the human papilloma virus, HPV, vaccines to young girls between the ages of nine and 10, in the poorest 80% schools in South Africa.
This shows government's commitment to the fight against cancer. The MF treasures the hope of seeing massive improvements in the early detection of this disease. Minister, we must ensure that public awareness of this disease is our top priority; and that all the necessary funds and support are made available, so that we can ultimately deliver as anticipated.
The training of the additional social workers profoundly confirms government's commitments to dealing with the negative impediments that might stagnate the rollout of a good health programme. The MF calls on the Minister to set up a research panel to determine the medical value of marijuana for cancer patients. Based on that research, we believe that a more just and accurate decision can be made in this regard. I thank you. [Applause.]