Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PNG HealthDepartment seeks expert help to address cancer

THE Health Department has sought help from experts to address cancer in Papua New Guinea due to the lack of experts and technical backup, a senior official says. 
George Otto, from the National Oncology Services, said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assess capacity in addressing cancer. 
“Gaps found in the country’s capacity will enable the IAEA to provide manpower assistance or financial assistance,” he said. 
“The information will be filed as a report by IAEA and submitted to the Health Department with recommendations to be acted upon.”
Speaking at the impact cancer review meeting in Port Moresby yesterday, Maria Villanueva, the impact mission to PNG coordinator, said cancer was a disease that affected the young, the old, the rich and the poor. 
“Programme of action for cancer (PACT) was established by IAEA in 2004 to help fight cancer in the developing world,” she said. 
“The programme builds on IAEA’s long-standing experience in radiation medicine, but goes a step further. 
“PACT aims at maximising the impact and effectiveness of radiotherapy by integrating it into comprehensive cancer strategies such as cancer control, planning, cancer information, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, palliative care, development of necessary human resource capacity, infrastructure as well as relevant research programmes.” 
According to the presentation made by local doctors, oral or mouth cancer was the most common in PNG, followed by cervix cancer, breast cancer and blood cancer. 
Dr Rose Andrew, a dentist, said chewing betel nuts appeared to be the main cause of mouth cancer in PNG.
“And PNG has the highest rate of mouth cancer compared with other countries and the Pacific Islands,” she said.
However, PNG lacked proper records and statistics to back this up, she said.