Samoa shares cancer experience

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PACIFIC DELEGATION: Shelley Burich (left) with colleagues from the region.

PACIFIC DELEGATION: Shelley Burich (left) with colleagues from the region.

The Executive Officer of the Samoa Cancer Society (S.C.S), Shelley Burich, is back in the country with a spring in her step after attending the Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention (A.P.O.C.P) 8th General Assembly in Brisbane, Australia. 

Over the course of four days, she met and networked with participants from more than 36 countries, presented on behalf of S.C.S, Cancer Surveillance for Samoa, and attended the Cancer Registration Symposium and Cancer Leaders’ Summit. 

During the meeting, Ms. Burich highlighted some of the challenges of cancer surveillance in Samoa. 

“With the absence of a fully functional cancer registry in our country, it is difficult to determine the true impact of cancer incidence, mortality and the cost of cancer to Samoa,” she said. 

“Data is currently fragmented and disjointed…and there needs to be proper cancer surveillance in place, such as a cancer registry. “Surveillance is critical to inform policy and program development, to monitor progress… it allows us to justify the adoption of particular early detection and treatment options.”

The Assembly was hosted by A.P.O.C.P, Cancer Council Queensland, International Agency for Research on Cancer (I.A.R.C), W.H.O and the Union for International Cancer Control (U.I.C.C). It drew more than 225 delegates from across the Asia-Pacific to discuss and accelerate the progress on cancer prevention and control.  

As Prof Jeff Dunn, C.E.O Cancer Council Queensland noted in his opening remarks, the Asia-Pacific is home to 61% of the world’s population, accounting for almost half of all cancers diagnosed worldwide (49%) and 56% of all cancer deaths…and that these meetings are to help shape a sustainable regional development agenda defined by a collectively agreed vision for the region’s future health.

The Cancer Registration Symposium on Day 1 provided the participants the opportunity to gain insight and contribute ideas on current developments in cancer registration within the Oceania region. 

One of the many positive outcomes of the forum were the partnerships created with international organisations and cancer registries that are able to assist and support the S.C.S with setting up a formal cancer registry within the next few months.   

This will give S.C.S access to training and support from these international partners, with the processing of data and coding and creating mechanisms to ensure that quality data is reported. 

S.C.S will then have the means and capability to maintain a cancer registry, which can be reported back to N.H.S and M.O.H for their use in planning and monitoring.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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