(CMC) – Jamaica has launched a National Cancer Registry (NCR) which it says provides a critical tool in guiding the planning and implementation of cancer prevention and control programmes.
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, said the NCR will store information such as the type of tumour, its location, the stage of the cancer and treatment as well as other essentials.
It forms part of a Caribbean and global initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to improve the availability of high-quality cancer data to guide decision-making to improve prevention, control and treatment of cancer.
Tufton said that the population-based cancer registry, which covers the entire island, will actively collect information on all new cancer cases, including data on patient demographics and cancer type. He said it will help to identify areas for research and to better understand risk factors and causes of cancer in Jamaica.
“(This will help) to describe the burden and distribution of cancer as well as to monitor the impact of cancer prevention and control activities, including screening and early detection,” Tufton said., adding that the registry is in sync with the Ministry’s strategic priority, aimed at improving the quality of health information systems for the planning and management of health services.
He said there were plans in the upcoming year for an information system “which we have made significant advances on over the past year and a half.
“We have a plan, we now have the resources and we will be rolling out an appropriate pilot, which we believe will aid, support and complement an initiative such as this one (the registry). For us, quality and accurate information is critical for effective decision-making, and when it comes to non-communicable diseases such as cancers, it is absolutely vital,” he said.
Tufton expressed gratitude to several entities, such as the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Barbados Cancer Registry and the Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub for their partnership in providing technical support, equipment and capacity building.
PAHO/WHO advisor on Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, Dr. Michelle Harris, speaking at the launch of the NCR on Tuesday, emphasised the importance of the registry, noting that it is essential to the monitoring and evaluation of specific cancer control measures aimed at reducing the burden and suffering from the disease.
“Cancer registries provide a unique source of such information on the scale, profile and evolution of the local cancer burden. Jamaica has had a subnational cancer registry based at the University of the West Indies since 1958. PAHO is pleased to have supported the Ministry of Health in its effort to establish this national population-based cancer registry,” she said.
She said PAHO’s support included a cancer registry consultant, who travelled to the island last December to train and work with regional cancer registry teams to help to operationalise the NCR’s software.
Executive Director of the Jamaica Cancer Society, Yulit Gordon, described the registry as a “significant milestone” in Jamaica’s cancer prevention and control efforts and will equip the country with evidence-based information on all Jamaicans diagnosed with cancer.
“This data will enable us to develop key strategies to improve quality of care, reduce the number of premature deaths to the disease and the overall impact and burden that a cancer diagnosis places on our Jamaican families,” she said.