Press release: ECSA health community launches world bank-funded cancer registries project

ECSA Health Community launches a World Bank funded project on improving statistical capacities of cancer registries in the five East African countries

Nairobi Kenya- 05th September 2017- The East Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) has received funding to support the implementation of a regional Program on Cancer Registries. The project is funded through the World Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) and will be implemented in the five East African countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).

The project is aimed at strengthening capacity in Ministries of Health to produce reliable cancer statistics. Cancer Registries are an essential component of cancer care and control programs and contribute to building national statistical capacity. This program will provide important statistics that will bolster efforts to:
• Step up advocacy and resource mobilization for cancer care and control.
• Inform design of cancer prevention and control policies and programs. 
• Strengthen awareness and encourage early screening, detection and treatment.

The ECSA-HC held an inaugural meeting from 5th-8th September to discuss modalities of implementing the project in the project countries. During the inaugural meeting, the ECSA-HC Director General Prof. Yoswa Dambisya pointed out that this project has come at an opportune time as countries face an increasing cancer burden, noting that “Without data and information there is no chance to control cancer which has become a public health emergency”.

Present at the inauguration were senior health managers representing the project countries. The Head of Prevention and Promotive Services in Kenya Dr Soti reiterated the importance of cancer registries, stating that “High quality data on the disease burden, risk factors, and people affected by cancer is critical to bring key stakeholders on board for enhanced cancer control”.

Speaking on behalf of cancer survivors, Ms Rhoda Wangui expressed her gratitude for this initiative, and underscored the importance of training more health workers on cancers to expand access to services at peripheral facilities. “Governments need reliable data to better plan and offer outreach services at sub-county level” said Wangui.

The project will be coordinated by the ECSA-HC and will work closely with specialized agencies, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the African Cancer Registries Network (AFCRN), the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization. “Collaboration with technical and regional partners is critical to success of such initiatives”, noted Miriam Schneidman, Lead Health Specialist at the World Bank, who manages this project. ECSA-HC will bring together experts from existing cancer registries, ministries of health, statistical offices and technical partners and institutions, including IARC, to support implementing countries.

Financing of the activities under this regional program will take place through an IDA grant (US$499,980) and will be implemented in a period of two years. Activities under the project complement and reinforce support provided through the Bank-funded East Africa Public Health Laboratory Networking Project coordinated regionally by the ECSA-HC.