The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the government to make cancer prevention and control an urgent national priority.
Dr. Jean Marie Dangou, Advisor, Cancer and Chronic Diseases at the Organization’s Africa Regional Office, said there should not only be adequate funding and logistics support but appropriate legislative framework to facilitate cancer registration at the national and regional levels.
He was opening of the fifth annual general meeting of the African Cancer Registry Network (ACRN) in Kumasi.
It has brought together representatives from about 30 African countries to review its activities and plan for the years ahead.
Dr. Dangou said although cancer prevention and control was part of the national non-communicable disease control strategy, interventions had been slow, compared to the other African countries.
He identified the lack of funding, inadequate staff and office space, and incompetent records, as some of the challenges facing cancer registries across the continent.
He indicated that cancers were becoming not only a huge health burden, but also affecting socio-economic gains of many of the countries.
There was therefore, the need for African governments to take appropriate action to reduce cancer cases and the associated fatalities, he added.
He spoke of the readiness of the world body to provide the needed technical support, and said, the time to take action was now.
Professor Donald Maxwell Parkin, Coordinator of the ACRN, said it was important to improve data and knowledge on cancers to help fashion out appropriate strategies to tackle it.
He said the Network had been serving as a platform for the individual countries to share ideas and unite their efforts to hold back the spread of the disease.
Dr. Joseph Akpaloo, who represented the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, said projected increases in non-communicable diseases, including cancers, should be a source of worry to everybody.
He identified good quality data as vital for providing evidence for policy and practice and applauded the Network for spearheading the production of data for cancer management on the continent.
He applauded the Kumasi cancer registry for its pioneering role – setting up the first population-based registry in Ghana with little support.
Dr. Barffour Awuah, Coordinator of the Kumasi registry, underlined the need for Africa to pool resources to fight cancers, threatening the socio-economic gains of the continent.
He said the registry had been established to provide data and research to support policy formulation and implementation in the country.
Nana Adu Mensah Asare, Presiding Member (PM) of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), pledged to collaborate with the registry to take initiatives that would help reduce cancers in Ghana.