The Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with Roche Ghana Limited, a Pharmaceutical Company, at the weekend launched the first National Guideline for Cancer Management in the country.
The 126-page Document was developed by a team of experts including surgeons, oncologists, paediatricians, pharmacists, obstetricians, gynaecologists, nutritionists, haematologists and epidemiologists.
The National Health Insurance Authority, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations were also involved in developing the Document, which was led and fully funded by Roche Ghana.
The Document is a follow-up to the National Strategy for Cancer Control in Ghana and provides tools and knowledge for various categories of health practitioners to make decisions regarding cancer patient care at their levels of competence.
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the GHS, who launched the Document in Accra, explained that although the National Strategy for Cancer Control provided information on policy and the basis for control, it did not contain sufficient information on management.
He, however, commended Roche for the support and stakeholders for the extensive work and invaluable contributions towards the successful development of the Document.
“As a surgeon, I am all too aware of the havoc cancers cause in our society. This Document will contribute in no small way to reversing this trend,” he said.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the Document was user-friendly with clear guidelines on activities for respective cancers at the various levels of care including referrals, while well laid out procedures were made available for easy usage by all healthcare professionals.
There was also information on the various laboratory investigations with respect to the levels of care, he said, adding that the inclusion of the very basic level of the health system; the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS), in the Guideline, fitted very well in the country’s objective of achieving Universal Health Coverage.
Dr Nsiah-Asare noted that the Document also provided an opportunity for advocating for the inclusion of other cancers in the benefits package of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
He, therefore, urged all to support the advocacy movement to ensure that the carefully thought out intentions of the Document to improve cancer care in Ghana was achieved.
He, however, said the current Guidelines was limited to the five most common cancers in Ghana, namely; breast, cervical, prostate, lymphomas and childhood cancers, which were found to be amenable to curative treatment.
Childhood cancers, he explained, have now been included to complete the coverage of all age groups, and also because high cure rates could be achieved with standard care.
Dr Nsiah-Asare expressed satisfaction at the quality and detailed content of the Document and implored all healthcare practitioners to use it to benefit society.
Mr Joao Paulo Magalnaes, the Country Manager of Roche Product Ghana Limited, said the company believed that every cancer patient, irrespective of where they lived and financial status, deserved to be treated equally with the right standard of care.
This was the reason the Roche sponsored, financially, the development of the Guideline for the treatment of the five most prevalent cancers in Africa and congratulated the team of experts and their associated healthcare professionals for the good work.
He said Roche was the worldwide leader in cancer research and was very proud to have discovered and launched essential life-saving medicines that brought hope to patients, their families and healthcare professionals.
Mr Magalnaes said apart from the several other innovative treatments being developed, the company would soon launch the first immuno-therapy that extended the survival of breast cancer patients significantly.
He said the Roche was also working with the GHS and MOH to ensure that Ghanaians also benefited from the innovations of the company with the aim of expanding its footprints to Sub-Saharan Africa.