All-inclusive plan needed to tackle cancer, other NCDs- Minister Lawrence

GINA, Guyana, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence said that a comprehensive strategic plan needs to be developed to address the state of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDS), and in particular the high incidence of cancer in Guyana.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence during her address to the participants of the Cancer Diagnostic and Management workshop at the Pegasus Hotel

Minister Lawrence was speaking at a three-day Cancer Diagnostic and Management workshop at the Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, today. The workshop is aimed at improving the prevention and control of NCDs in Guyana, with focus of reducing morbidity and mortality as a result of cancer.

The workshop was organised by the Pan American Health Organisation /World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO). It targets general medical officers working in cancer care and treatment, and medical doctors working in the satellite clinics throughout the country, doctors in Regions One and Nine, nurses working in the Visual Inspection using Acetic acid (VIA)  programme and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The WHO’s International Monitoring Agency for NCDs has revealed that these diseases  are the leading cause of deaths worldwide, accounting for some 82 percent of all deaths in humans. Medium and low income countries are all at risk with NCDs, with some 38 million deaths in low and middle income countries.

Minister Lawrence said that Guyana is no different, and is just as vulnerable; because NCDs including various types of cancer are the main cause of morbidity and mortality. In fact, statistics reveal that between 2003 and 2012, the country recorded 6, 518 cancer cases which accounts for some 87.3 percent of every 100,000 of the population. Of these, 3,956 (60.2 percent) were females and 2, 561 (39.3percent) were males.

According to the Public Health Minister, while recent statistics are not yet available, if one were to judge by the trend over the 10- year

PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr.William Adu-Krow

period, then Guyana has every reason to worry, and the need to intervene becomes more imperative, hence the workshop is timely.

“We have to respond effectively and promptly to threats of NCDs inclusive of cancer, and seek ways to eliminate the preventable loss of life…the prevalence of these diseases are threatening our human resource, which is so pivotal to the social and economic sustainability of our country, therefore our response to the WHO’s appeal for measures to reduce the modifiable risk factors for NCDs, through the creation of health promoting environments must be channelled at every level of our population throughout the length and breadth of Guyana,” Minister Lawrence noted.

She said that the country’s interventions and control of NCDs and cancer must be strategic and robust, innovative policies must be designed and implemented to impact the gaps, and strengthen the health care system.

The expectation is that at the end of the workshop, medical personnel will be more knowledgeable about early detection and diagnosis and treatment of common types of cancer, as well as palliative care.

Participants of the Cancer Diagnostic and Management workshop at the Pegasus Hotel

“I have no doubt that the goal of this workshop is achievable, since we have a core of eminent specialists as resource persons, expressing their various oncological fields, and a team of participants passionate for the knowledge of expertise that will enable them to strengthen the overall health sector, by improving the diagnosis and management of cancers,” Minister Lawrence pointed out.

The Minister encouraged the medical and health care professionals to establish an agenda for the citizens, as they too, have to be educated and have an understanding on the challenges of cancer.

Meanwhile, PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow said that this workshop has been in the pipeline for almost two years. Dr. Adu-Krow noted that the incidence of cancer and other NCDs are very alarming, and therefore it is imperative that there is a system in place to ensure that persons get access to the necessary, information and treatment.

Facilitators of the workshop included medical specialists from Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, the United States (US), the Bahamas and Jamaica.


By: Synieka Thorne


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