Jamaica launches National Cancer Registry

Dr. Tamu Davidson (right), Director of the Non-Communicable Diseases Unit of the Ministry of Health, gives Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton and Mrs. Yulit Gordon, Executive Director of the Jamaica Cancer Society, a tutorial in the use of the database for the National Cancer Registry, launched on Tuesday, December 11.

The Ministry of Health on Tuesday (December 11, 2018) launched the National Cancer Registry, an important step in the fight to beat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and, in particular, cancer.

“This registry, frankly speaking, could mean the difference between life and death for Jamaicans diagnosed with cancer and/or who are at risk of the disease, certainly in the years to come,” noted Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton at the launch, hosted at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa.

Cancers accounted for 3,538 or 19.3% of total deaths in Jamaica in 2016 while the World Health Organisation International Agency for Cancer Research estimates that for 2018, there will be 7,348 new cases of cancer in Jamaica.

In the case of Jamaica, the Registry – a Population-based Cancer Registry that covers the entire island – will actively collect information on all new cancer cases, including data on patient demographics and cancer type in a defined population.

“This is to describe the burden and distribution of cancer as well as to monitor the impact of cancer prevention and control activities, including cancer screening and early detection, the HPV vaccination programme and cancer treatment programmes; as well as identify areas for research to better understand risk factors and causes for cancers in Jamaica,” the health minister explained.

Dr. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health

The main sources of data include laboratory reports, medical records and death certificates. These data are collected and collated using standardised forms and procedures, and then entered into an information system for storage, management and analysis.

The registry, meanwhile, has been made possible with support from key partners, including the Pan American Health Organisation, the Barbados Cancer Registry, and the Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub.

“We thank these organisatons for their partnership, which has taken the form of not only technical support in terms of the adoption of the appropriate software, which powers the database for the registry, but also the contribution of equipment and capacity building,” Tufton noted.

The National Cancer Registry is in sync with the Ministry of Health’s strategic priority to improve the quality of health information systems for the planning and management of the health services.

“Quality and accurate information is, we know, critical for effective decision-making and when it comes to NCDs, including cancers, this is vital. This registry helps to make this possible,” the health minister said.