First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo says Ghana needs to boldly confront the financing of cancer treatment to help provide quality care for patients who suffer from the disease.
She emphasised the importance of awareness creation on cancers to aid screening and promote early detection in Ghana and in Africa as a whole.
“We must begin to think of, and treat cancers as we treat diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.”
Speaking at a cancer conference in Accra, Mrs Akufo-Addo called on both the private and public health insurance players to cover cancer treatment.
She said the country also needed to invest in financing and the training of more healthcare professionals to acquire the needed skills to manage cancer patients.
The conference was organised by the Association of Representatives of Ethical Pharmaceutical Industries (AREPI), a body of multinational pharmaceutical companies operating in Ghana, in collaboration with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the biggest global cancer fighting organisation.
It forms part of activities marking this year’s World Cancer Day, observed on February 4, annually, and was attended by Princess Dina Mired, Princess of Jordan and President of UICC.
A 2018 publication by the International Agency for Research on Cancer states that almost 23,000 cases of new cancers are recorded annually in Ghana.
Out of the number, more than 15,000 people die every year.
The First Lady described the numbers as alarming, since she said those were just the officially recorded numbers.
She mentioned some of the challenges including unavailability of infrastructure for the appropriate diagnosis of some cancers, limited specialized healthcare professionals to manage cancers among others.
Princess Dina Mired, on her part, expressed regret that for some countries including Ghana, cancers meant deaths while in other countries there were no deaths with cancers.
She emphasised that access to quality care as well as prevention and awareness creation were critical measures needed to stop cancer deaths.
She said people also needed to change their lifestyles of eating junk food, avoid cancer stigma, while governments must put in the needed regulations, backed with political actions to reduce the prevalence of the disease.
Dr Joel Yarney, a Radiation Oncologists of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, said five percent of Ghana’s population was now suffering from all forms of cancers, which were part of non-communicable diseases that had been increasing among Ghanaians lately.
He, therefore, advised Ghanaians to live healthy lives, eat well and go for regular medical check-ups to help them live long and healthy.