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Jul 2, 2014

Stakeholders meet to discuss the implementation of cancer policy

A two-day cancer consultation concluded today at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. Stakeholders from various agencies and ministry officials convened to look at the cancer plan that was developed in 2013 and to create the medium-term and long-term actions that need to be implemented given the limited renounces in the country. Along with the Pan American Health Organization, the Ministry of Health is looking to available support from neighboring Guatemala and Mexico because of the lack of cancer services to the Belizean populace. Director of the Policy and Analysis Unit of the Ministry of Health, Doctor Ramon Figueroa, spoke of the strategy and some of the challenges the ministry currently faces. Figueroa says that it is possible only with the assistance of all partners.

 

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, Ministry of Health

Ramon Figueroa

“I must say that if there is one topic where you find a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of drive and a lot of emotion, it is in cancer. And we have a lot of people here that you can perceive the total commitment that exists. One of the things that we also want to discuss at the stakeholders meeting is also the coordination, the coordinating mechanism, and that’s part of what is going to be presented and discussed right now. How do you coordinate actions, how do we all work together so that we don’t trip over each other; so that we make it seamless referral system for the patient because at the end of the day it is all about the patient and the person who is afflicted by cancer. So how do we work together to ensure that they have an easier access to the type of services as well as we want to…prevention is better than cure. So we also want to focus a lot of attention on identifying what are the risk factors at the community level, start public education campaign so that people know what are the factors that bring you to that and then start early screening programs so that the earlier you get them the less effects and the more probability for survival.  Big challenge include having enough data. Part of the discussion that we had in there was when people are diagnosed or there is a presumptive diagnosis of cancer, people panic. And a lot of times they don’t know where to go and that information does not enter the system so we don’t have a very clear picture of what the situation is in the country. we know and sometimes from information abroad—of course information locally, but a lot of complete information from abroad on studies being done—that some of the prevalent cancers are prosthetic, breast…which is the same almost everywhere else. So we are saying let’s look at those particular; let’s look at from prevention, identification of risk factors to early screening and then access to care. And right now one of the biggest challenges is how do you access treatment for people who have already been identified very late or have been identified with the disease already. That is a major challenge; that is also a very costly service and so we are looking at alternatives right now.”

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