Dr Aileen Flavin (left), expert in radiation oncology, speaks with Dr Cosmas Misi, Chief Radiation Therapist at Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), Kingston, Jamaica. The radiotherapy machine depicted is one of two in the public sector in Jamaica. (Photo: IAEA/PACT)

IAEA Assesses Jamaica’s Cancer Control

15 March 2013

Responding to a request from the Minister of Health of Jamaica, a team of cancer control experts last week conducted an in-depth assessment of the country’s cancer control capacity and needs. The IAEA’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) sent the team as part of an imPACT Review, an IAEA service that seeks to support national efforts to develop a comprehensive national cancer control programme. From 4-8 March, the team conducted visits to national institutions, hospitals and primary health care facilities to ascertain the current status and needs of cancer services in Jamaica.

Jamaica is in the midst of a rising incidence and mortality among its people due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). During his meeting with the mission team, the Minister of Health, HE Dr Fenton Ferguson highlighted that 56% of deaths in Jamaica are attributable to NCDs, 20% of which are due to cancer. Dr Ferguson noted that US $170 million is currently spent to treat NCDs, further stating that the country is facing mounting financial challenges that underline the importance of strategic planning to maximize investments made in cancer control.

The team was comprised of several experts, whose area of focus spanned the cancer control continuum, including cancer information, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment (including radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation oncology) and palliative care. Representatives from IAEA partners included experts from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Regional Office and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, organizations whose mandates complement the IAEA’s expertise in cancer control.

While conducting the assessment, the expert team also reviewed the status of IAEA Technical Cooperation projects in Jamaica. An integral component of the mission is to review the status of radiation medicine safety in Jamaica.

The mission team will next deliver its report to the Ministry of Health in Jamaica. From there, it is envisaged that the conclusions and recommendations of the imPACT Review will help the country’s health authorities to strengthen their cancer strategy.