In one of Africa's largest countries, Sudan, the cancer rate among its population is rising. Since the country's health authorities are noting an increasing incidence of breast, cervical and prostate cancer, the IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) was requested by Sudan's Federal Ministry of Health to conduct an imPACT Review, a comprehensive assessment of the country's cancer control capacity and needs.
"We have noted a steady and troubling increase in the number of cancer cases in Sudan," said Ambassador Mahmoud Elamin, of the Sudan Embassy to the UN and IAEA in Vienna. "The PACT mission to Sudan comes at a particularly timely moment as the country has recently completed its National Cancer Strategy to meet the growing need for cancer services in the country."
Conducted from 23 to 26 April 2012, the imPACT mission was conducted by a team of international experts in the areas of cancer control planning, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, cancer registration and palliative care. PACT's partners were involved in the planning and implementation of the mission, notably the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) and the WHO Country Office for Sudan. The WHO Representative in Sudan, Dr. Anshu Banerjee, played a particularly instrumental role in supporting the mission's efforts. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also contributed to the mission's preparation.
"Sudan faces many challenges in cancer control and planning," said Dr. Rolando Camacho, Cancer Control Coordinator for IAEA/PACT and leader of the imPACT mission to Sudan. "Though much needs to be done to prevent and treat cancers in Sudan, our mission team found strong dedication and commitment among the Federal Ministry of Health and Sudanese health professionals who are on the front lines of diagnosis and treatment."
During the mission, the imPACT Review team conducted site visits to major oncology centers, including the Radiation and Isotope Center Khartoum, where the majority of Sudan's cancer cases are seen and treated. Additional visits were conducted in oncology centers outside of Khartoum, including the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Molecular Biology in Gezira State and the Shandi Oncology Center in Red Nile State. The Sudan National Cancer Registry, the Central Pathology Laboratory, private oncology centres and NGOs were visited as well.
"Our priority now is to deliver findings and recommendations that can help the country to reduce mortality in the long term," Camacho noted.