Health Ministry looking at comprehensive cancer care programme
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony has said his Ministry is about to launch a more comprehensive cancer care programme.
During a recent DPI interview, Dr. Anthony said while they have been focusing on COVID-19, efforts are also being made to ensure the other health needs of Guyanese are addressed, especially in the area of oncology.
“We’re going to be looking at cervical and breast cancer for women and for men we want to focus a lot on prostate cancer. These three are the big ones and if you focus your attention on preventing these then I think we’d see a huge drop in the amount of cases recorded per annum,” he said.
The Ministry will adopt a multi-year approach to the strategy.
The Health Minister disclosed there were “fruitful discussions with a number of partners.” These, he said, will help build out a robust cancer programme and will include an updated Cancer Registry along with ensuring there are more oncology specialists.
“We’ll have to do more work with our Cancer Registry to properly document the kinds of cancers we have … along with this, we also need to improve our pathology lab. This is another area we have to put a lot of focus on to be able to improve the turnaround time for when samples go into the lab samples testing, better equipment and experts.”
He disclosed that a preliminary survey of the country’s cancer services was conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency which made several recommendations and is expected to return in 2021 for another assessment.
Minister Anthony noted that while there is an ongoing preventative campaign for cervical cancer, the services are not being optimally utilised. As such, the Ministry plans to increase its education campaign.
“We can prevent cervical cancer with a vaccine. If given to young women between the ages of nine and 14 it would prevent them from getting cervical cancer. Unfortunately, we have introduced this programme a couple of years but we haven’t seen a huge uptake in the vaccination. This is something we’ll have to come back to because around the world, this has proven to work,” the Minister said. He added that necessary measures need to be in place to facilitate the early detection of other forms of cancer such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. Cancer is listed as the third leading cause of death in Guyana.