World Cancer Day celebration promotes positive action against cancer

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 4 FEBRUARY 2019: Samoa joins the celebration of World Cancer Day today following a ‘Health Fun Run’ last Saturday at the Tuana’imato Complex to boost physical health and generate the opportunities to join forces to support the national campaign against cancer.

A Sunday Service was held at the Vaiala EFKS Church yesterday to remember those who have passed on from cancer and those who are still living with the disease.

This year’s main theme is ‘I am and I will’ emphasizing the call for action urging every individual on their commitment to take positive actions against cancer.

“It is a global initiative that unites everyone together in the fight against this universal epidemic which knows no boundary. This year 2019, marks the 4th year that the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Samoa Cancer Society and its stakeholders commemorate this important event,” according to the Samoa Cancer Society.

Cancer is currently the second leading cause of death globally with a recent increase to 18.1million new cases and 9.6million deaths[1]. In Samoa, cancer is the second highest killer after the cardiovascular diseases according to our National Health Statistics in 2017. Mortality is high because of the limited primary health care and cancer treatments and the lack of effective screening programs delay diagnosis at the stage where some cancers are easily treatable.

It is difficult to estimate the cost of cancer in Samoa but health expenditure on NCD’s in Samoa accounts for over 40% of the total health expenditure, and this is mostly spent on clinical care[2].  Cancer is an increasingly major cause of mortality and morbidity internationally[3].

The main objectives of Cancer Day worldwide are[4];

  • To save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer
  • Pressing Governments and individuals across the world to take positive actions against the disease

‘I am and I will’ continues to be the theme for the next two years and this 3-year campaign offers the opportunity to generate enduring impacts by increasing public and community engagements and building individual awareness and impact-driven action.

Over the years, a lot of combined efforts through health programs and activities have been implemented to boost public awareness on the prevention of cancer. In 2018, a consultation was held in Samoa for the first time to discuss on the palliative care approach that is needed for our cancer patients. The outcome of this consultation was the drafting of the Cancer Palliative Guidelines which will be used by all our clinicians and hospitals including our private clinics.

A Cancer Registry is currently in its final draft, which will be of great assistance to further improve the tracking system for our cancer patients. Risk factors are packaged into the NCDs education and promotion messages that are continuously publicized for public awareness so that every individual is encouraged to take ownership of their health.

This year’s activities revolve around the general public as also aligned with the global objectives and National Policies and Strategies in place on cancer prevention.

The Director General of Health, Leausa T. Dr Take Naseri urges and encourages the public to come forward for cancer check-up and screening at the main hospitals for early diagnosis and treatment as Prevention is better than cure.