Accra, May 19, GNA- The National Cancer Coalition of America (NCC), has announced plans to establish a maiden African Cancer Project in Ghana, to improve the cancer survival rate in Africa.
To achieve this feat, the projects aims at introducing cancer treatment programmes, and promote early detection and prevention of cases.
Mr Tom Roane, International Development Director of the NCC, made this known when he paid a courtesy call on Dr Gladys Norley Ashitey, during a three-day visit to Ghana to assess the feasibility of the project.
"The need to establish the project in Africa has become necessary as the world pulls resources together to fight the disease that is claiming many lives globally without exception," he said. The New Orleans based-NCC, established in August 1993, seeks to reduce the suffering of cancer patients and their families through programmes that provide knowledge, assistance and relief. The coalition had donated methotrexate tablets valued at 2.1 billion cedis to the Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye teaching hospitals, through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) for cancer patients.
Mr Roane said the NCC and ADRA-Ghana were forging partnership with the Government and public health institutions, to provide drugs and equipment for treatment and control of cancer in the country and other African countries.
He said since 2000 the USA Pharmaceutical Association's annual donation of cancer drugs had shot up from four million dollars to 70 million dollars.
Besides sourcing for drugs, equipment and medical supplies to assist in the treatment of the disease and promote quality healthcare delivery, NCC would embark on sustainable public education programmes to educate the people on how to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer. Dr Ashitey said her sector Ministry had constituted a committee to develop a registry on cancer, after which a public forum would be organized to strategise for the control and prevention of the disease.
Dr Ivy Ekem of the Haematology Department of Korle Bu said during an interaction with Mr Roane that cases of acute leukaemia rose from 12 to 25 within the first quarter of 2004 and 2005 while chronic leukaemia rose from 15 to 19 during the same period.
She attributed the rise in the number of cases to growing awareness about the disease and referrals by doctors. Dr Ekem said the cost of treatment was so high that most patients could not afford, while some of the essential drugs for treatment are not available in Ghana.
Mr Samuel Asante-Mensah, Country Director of ADRA appealed to the Government to review its policies on tax exemptions and relief to facilitate the efforts by non-profit agencies to bring the drugs into the country.