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Cancer Treatment Needs Improved Healthcare

The Cancer Society of Ghana has urged the government to step up its efforts at improving the quality of healthcare delivery, particularly to cancer patients in the country.

It said the government’s urgent efforts will help to significantly reduce the number preventable deaths from cancer.

The Society, in a press statement copied on the occasion of World Cancer Day on February 4, 2018 noted that deaths from cancer globally are expected to rise to over 14 million per year over the next 10 years if governments do not address issues of unequal access to quality healthcare.

“…People world-wide [are] facing unequal access to cancer detection, treatment, and care services. An acute example of a global access gap particularly affecting the under served and underprivileged is access to radiotherapy. As one of the major methods of treatment for cancer, radiotherapy is recommended for 52% of cancer patients,” the statement said.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Society, Prof. Edwin Wiredu pledged the Society’s commitment to help the government develop an accurate data on cancer in Ghana and also contribute to reducing the fatality rate of cancer.

Read the full statement below:
Sunday, February 4, will be World Cancer Day- day set aside by the international community to increase awareness and education on cancer with the slogan “We can. I can”. The World Cancer Day 2018 campaign calls for joint efforts between governments, nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations to promote action and investments in areas including tobacco control, promotion of healthy lifestyles, cancer screening and early detection, and improved cancer treatment services, as well as palliative care.

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) indicates that in 2012, worldwide, there were 14.1 million new cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths (with 50% of these being premature deaths), and 32.6 million people living with cancer within 5 years of diagnosis.

About 8 million (57%) of the new cancer cases, 5.3 million (65%) of the cancer deaths, and 15.6 million (48%) of the 5-year prevalent cancer cases occurred in the less developed regions.

It is important to stress that the number of cancer deaths is projected to rise to over 14 million per year over the next 10 years.

The focus of the UICC in this year’s campaign is to raise awareness about the millions of people world-wide facing unequal access to cancer detection, treatment, and care services. An acute example of a global access gap particularly affecting the underserved and underprivileged is access to radiotherapy. As one of the major methods of treatment for cancer, radiotherapy is recommended for 52% of cancer patients. The gap between need and availability is highest in low- to middle income countries; 90% of low- to middle-income country cancer patients lack access to radiotherapy. There is an urgent for support for some forms of chemotherapy. The cost outlay in some cases is close to a death sentence because of huge barriers to access.

The global target is a 25% reduction in premature deaths from cancer and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2025. This was a target set in 2011 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to cut premature NCD deaths by 25% within 14 years. It is almost 7 years since this target was set by the WHO. To meet this target requires more action than ever to close the inequality in access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.

Cancer is recognized as the leading cause of global morbidity. Today, there are an estimated 8.8 million deaths from cancer every year with about 70% of cancer deaths occurring in developing countries which are the most ill-equipped to cope with the cancer burden. The starkest area of inequity relates to childhood cancers – a specific group that the WHO underscored in its landmark 2017 Cancer Resolution – with survival rates over 80% in high income countries and as low as 20% in low income countries.

In Ghana there are about 12,700 reported cancer deaths (2008). The leading cancer deaths in females are cancers of the breast, cervix, haematopoietic organs, liver, stomach and colorectal. The top cancers deaths in men are liver, prostate, haematopoietic organs, stomach, pancreas and bladder. The leading causes of cancers deaths in children are malignancies of the haematopoietic system, followed by brain, kidney, eyes, and liver and bone tumours.

As we mark World Cancer Day, the Cancer Society of Ghana will work with other partners to improve quality of cancer data for public health use, increase access to early detection and accurate cancer diagnosis, increase access to timely and quality treatment and support palliative care services to people living with cancer.

PROF EDWIN K. WIREDU
CHAIRMAN OF TRUSTEES
CANCER SOCIETY OF GHANA

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