World Cancer Day: Ghana must invest in fighting cancer

Cancer Cancer in the body system

Sun, 6 Feb 2022 Source: King David Dzirasah

While the world celebrates world cancer day, it is important that as a country we make a commitment towards fighting cancer. Cancer is one of the life-threatening diseases that has been on the rise as a result of changes in lifestyles.

This disease manifests as a result of abnormal growth in cells. According to figures from World Health Organisation, approximately 10 million people died of cancer in 2020.

This means that one out of every six people who died in 2020 died as a result of cancer. This situation is very alarming. Data from the Global Cancer Observatory indicates that approximately 15 thousand people died of cancer as of 2020 in Ghana. The figures could even be higher than this.

There is no doubt that cancer is a serious disease that must be dealt with. Ghanaians can contribute to preventing the occurrence of cancer by knowing the risk factors that are generally associated with cancer.

Some of the risk factors associated with the occurrence of cancer include tobacco use, alcohol consumption, consumption of unhealthy diet, lack of regular exercise, viruses such as the human papillomavirus as well as genetic predispositions.

Engaging in deliberate lifestyle choices as well as going for regular screening is the surest way of preventing one from getting cancer.

Ghana as a country has put in place a policy titled National Strategy for Cancer Control in Ghana 2012-2016. While this policy document is meant to guide the country towards fighting cancer, there have been major challenges in terms of the implementation of the policy.

The policy has several objectives it seeks to achieve. One of the objectives of the policy is to improve the service delivery across the continuum of cancer control through effective planning and coordination linked to improved resources.

In addition, the policy also seeks to improve the effective diagnosis and treatment of cancer by 30% through evidence-based cost-effective interventions to reduce morbidity and mortality. Finally, the policy aims to promote the establishment of a cancer registry to form the basis of delivering cost-effective interventions, for research and surveillance.

While the government has made efforts to achieve the objective so the cancer policy for Ghana, there have been financial constraints. This, therefore, makes it important for the Government of Ghana to invest heavily in funding research as well as preventing and creating interventions meant to fight cancer in Ghana.

The world is experiencing an epidemiological transition whereby there is a shift from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases. This means that non-zoonotic diseases like cancer are also contributing greatly to the burden of disease both globally and in Ghana as well. This calls for greater attention in addressing this disease.

Columnist: King David Dzirasah