Gambian’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has announced plans to mobilize health workers, voluntary groups, students to conduct a massive sensitization on cancer to mark World Cancer Day, on 4th February.
According to the Director of Health Promotion and Education of the Ministry, Momodou Njai, the event will be observed locally with a march pass from the new National Assembly Building to the Arch 22nd in Banjul, aimed at sensitizing the general public on the prevalence of cancer and to seek fund for the main Cancer Unit at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul.
According to a statement delivered by Njai during a press briefing at the Central Drug Stores in Kotu, media campaign has been launched with airtime on electronic media and newspaper publication to disseminate the information leading to the day.
He said cancer is a dangerous disease and its existence in the country is a concern to the health sectors hence the need to sensitize the public on the preventive measures.
The Gambia has a National Cancer Registry (NCR) which was established in 1986 to record data on the pattern of cancer occurrence in country. It is remarkable amongst cancer registries in Africa in achieving a broad coverage, including a substantial proportion of the rural population, thus providing an unbiased description of the cancer profile in the population and an unparalleled opportunity to study cancer occurrence and outcome in a low-income country in sub-Saharan -Africa.
Population-based cancer registries such as the GNCR play a key role in cancer control by providing the means to plan, monitor and evaluate the impact of specific interventions. The data generated by the GNCR demonstrated just how prevalent liver cancer is in this region and stimulated a substantial number of additional research collaborations on liver and other cancers of importance in the population. These included extensive investigations of the role of aflatoxin and its interaction with HBV infection in the etiology of liver cancer and, more recently, studies on breast cancer.
The high coverage and quality of the data from the GNCR also permitted one of the rare studies of cancer survival in an African population, showing just how poor the outcomes were compared to high-resource countries.
The GNCR is a model of how investment in the cancer registry infrastructure, aimed at collecting quality data on cancer in low- and medium income countries, provides not only vital information on the cancer burden but also stimulates fresh ideas to investigate the causes and prevention of the common cancers in a region.