The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has called on all member states to commit to prioritising the cancer fight, addressing the root causes of health inequity and to ensuring that quality health services are accessible to all when, where and how they are needed.
CARPHA issued the call commemorating World Cancer Day 2024, which was observed on February 4. The calls comes just months after a BVI-based oncologist revealed that over 300 people in the territory have been struck by cancer in three years.
The regional health agency said cancer is a critical public health concern and continues to impact lives indiscriminately. In the Caribbean, cancer is the second leading cause of death, accounting for a fifth of all deaths.
According to CARPHA statistics, in 2022, it is estimated that there were over 113,000 new cancer cases and over 65,000 cancer deaths in the Caribbean.
Among new cancer cases, the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the Caribbean in 2022 were cancers of the prostate, breast, colorectum, lung and cervix.
For World Cancer Day 2024, the international community led the ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign, which highlights the significant inequities that exist around the world in the level of care that people with cancer receive.
Dr Joy St John, Executive Director at CARPHA noted, “this campaign is more relevant than ever, as we continue to focus on raising awareness, encouraging tangible change and ensuring that quality health services are accessible to all, especially here in the Caribbean”.
Caribbean cancer registers
Through CARPHA’s Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub initiative, Caribbean countries are being encouraged to develop population-based cancer registries.
CARPHA said better quality cancer data provides more reliable evidence to support decision making for cancer prevention and control at the national and regional levels.
In the BVI, there have been talks about creating a cancer registry, but to date, this hasn’t been established.
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