The Non-State Actors for Health and Development Ghana, a Coalition of health actors, has called for a high commitment by stakeholders towards the prevention, treatment and control of all cancers plaguing the health of the people.
It said more attention should be given to research on cancers and actions that would strengthen the health system, especially with infrastructure, development of guidelines, and resorting to cost effective strategies.
This was in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra to mark the World Cancer Day, observed on February 4, to raise awareness on cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
The theme for the day, marked across the world, was: “Closing the Care Gap.”
The statement said cancer, known to be a terminal disease, was a prevailing health issue that could affect all persons, both young and old, but with early detection and treatment, cancer deaths could be avoided.
“According to the World Health Organisation, the six most common new cancer cases in 2020 were Breast Cancer with 2.26 million cases, Lung Cancer with 2.21 million cases, Colon and Rectum Cancer with 1.93 million cases, Prostate Cancer; 1.41 million cases, Skin (non-melanoma) Cancer; 1.20 million cases, and Stomach Cancer; 1.09 million cases, worldwide,” it said.
“Also, the five most common causes of cancer deaths globally in 2020 were Lung Cancer with 1.80 million deaths, Colon and rectum Cancer with 916, 000 deaths, Liver Cancer; 830,000 deaths, Stomach Cancer; 769,000 deaths, and Breast cancer; 685,000 deaths.”
However, the most common cancers generally vary amongst countries, though cervical cancer is prevalent in 23 countries, including Ghana.
The statement said it was commendable that currently, in Ghana, as part of the Universal Health Coverage by 2030 Agenda, the National Health Insurance Authority had recently included the diagnosis and treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Burkitt Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma and Wilms Tumor in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) benefits package.
“These kinds of cancers are highly curable if detected early, nonetheless they cover a considerable 60 per cent of nearly all childhood cancers” the Coalition said.
“In 2020, NHIA also added Specialist Anti Breast Cancer drug (Herceptin) to the NHIS medicine’s list.”
The Coalition, however, called for intensified education on all common cancers including cervical in women, prostate cancer in men, and lung cancer for those who smoke and liver cancer that were prevalent in the country.
The Coalition of Non-State Actors-Ghana includes NGOs, media personnel, traditional leaders, academic institutions, and philanthropic foundations operating in the health sector.