Responding to a request from the Minister of Health of Jamaica, a team of cancer control experts conducted an in-depth assessment of the country's cancer control capacity and needs. The IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) sent the team as part of an imPACT Review, an IAEA service that seeks to support national efforts to develop a comprehensive national cancer control programme.
From 4 to 8 March 2013, the team conducted visits to national institutions, hospitals and primary health care facilities to ascertain the current status and needs of cancer services in Jamaica.
In Jamaica, the burden of disease and mortality among the population is increasing due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). During his meeting with the mission team, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, the Minister of Health, highlighted that 56% of deaths in Jamaica are attributable to NCDs, 20% of which are due to cancer.
Dr. Ferguson noted that US $170 million is currently spent to treat NCDs, further stating that the country is facing mounting financial challenges that underline the importance of strategic planning to maximize investments made in cancer control.
The team comprised several experts, whose area of focus spanned the cancer control continuum, including cancer information, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment (including radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation oncology) and palliative care.
Working in collaboration with the IAEA on the imPACT Review were representatives of IAEA partners, including experts from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Regional Office and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, organizations whose mandates complement the IAEA's expertise in cancer control.
While conducting the assessment, the expert team also reviewed the status of IAEA Technical Cooperation projects related to health care in Jamaica. An integral component of the mission is to review the status of radiation medicine safety in Jamaica.
The mission team will deliver its report to the Jamaican Ministry of Health, which can draw upon the imPACT Review's conclusions and recommendations to help the country's health authorities strengthen their cancer strategy.