Health ministry to gather data on cancers islandwide
The Ministry of Health is expanding the reach of the National Cancer Registry (NCR) to the entire island to facilitate data gathering on every type of cancer in Jamaica.
Director of non-communicable diseases and injuries prevention in the Ministry of Health, Dr Tamu Davidson-Sadler, said the registry information will allow the ministry to plan and project how many resources will be needed in the future to plan for treatment, diagnosis and screening of the disease.
"This is critically important in taking an evidence-based approach to planning and monitoring some of our programmes. We want data to be better able to understand the trends, distribution and causes as it relates to different types of cancers," she said.
Davidson-Sadler added that there are some strict criteria for quality data that is required at the global level and that the ministry aims to meet those quality standards. "We would also want to ensure that this data is in a form that will not breach confidentiality and at the same time make the information available to the public, so that awareness to Jamaica's situation is out there," Davidson-Sadler said. She pointed out that Jamaica is part of a global initiative to improve data collection, and in 2013, as part of the national plan, the ministry began the process of implementing the National Cancer Registry, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization.
"This is where we register all cancer cases within a geographic area. We are now running this programme in three regions and we should complete our process by implementing this registry programme in the fourth region - the North East Regional Health Authority," Davidson-Sadler said.
She explained that the process involves collecting demographics, tumor information and follow-up, which is entered into a database.
"We can look at the incidence of cancer in St Elizabeth, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, and the high-risk groups," she noted. "It means that we can determine if we need to go into a particular area to do more education and more screening. We also expect, as we scale up our screening programme, to identify more persons with cancer," Davidson-Sadler said. She noted that the ministry intends to give an annual update on cancer incidence, then eventually move to three- or five-year updates.
Davidson-Sadler said it is important to note that Jamaica has a history of cancer registration, having started the Jamaica Cancer Registry at the University of the West Indies in 1958 to collect data from Kingston and St Andrew.