Comprehensive cancer prevention and treatment plan for 2020

─ Legislation to protect against cancers being drafted

─ will focus on education, awareness, screening and treatment of all cancers

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, October 24, 2019

The staff of the Ministry of Public Health’s Chronic Diseases Unit are working on a Comprehensive National Cancer Prevention and Treatment plan to be introduced in 2020. This document will be used by the ministry as a guide as they move forward in addressing cancer statistics which pose a major burden on the local population.

Coordinator of the Chronic Diseases Unit, Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Kavita Singh.

Each member state of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been mandated through a World Health Assembly resolution to emphasise on the development and reinforcement of comprehensive national cancer control programmes that include prevention, early detection, improved treatment and palliative care.

Speaking with the Coordinator of the ministry’s Chronic Diseases Unit, Dr. Kavita Singh, it was highlighted that Guyana has never had such a plan in place. However, she noted that by mid-2020, a plan will be in place following the implementation of several of measures. One of these being the passage of a legislation protecting persons from radiation which causes cancers.

“There are certain things that the country has to do in tandem with preparing a Cancer Control and Prevention plan. One of those would be to pass our legislation as it relates to nuclear safety or radioactive safety. In radiotherapy, the treatment is all nuclear treatment and if there are no safety laws then that can actually not be a very good setting for the country,” Dr. Singh explained.

She added that the International Atomic Energy Agency would have collaborated with stakeholders in Guyana to draft this particular legislation. A training exercise of this nature was held in 2018 which covered different aspects of radiation protection, the International Standards for Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources, regulatory requirements, as well as the safety and security of sources (including source transportation and radiation detection and measurement).

With this training, local staff working with ionising radiation are now better equipped to follow radiation protection regulations and guidance to ensure its safe application.

While this takes place, the ministry is also preparing its human resources capacity to be ready for the introduction of the plan. The ministry’s proactive approach is lauded as it puts in place what is needed to effectively roll out the prevention and treatment plan.

Dr. Singh added: “We would have gone on the ground and conducted a situation analysis of what exists in the system and where our gaps are and the gaps are many but the ministry has been very proactive in this regard in sending persons for training in the areas of Oncology, Radiology and even Radiotherapy so these are all resources that will return to the country and go towards strengthening our Cancer Prevention and Control Plan.”

According to Dr. Singh, the plan will focus heavily on education and awareness as it relates to cancers and how they can be prevented. Screening services will also be promoted as the ministry will work assiduously to expand and establish screening and diagnosis services countrywide. Treatment, monitoring and Evaluation will follow.

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