Quiet recently, a team of international experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were in country to access and review the country’s cancer control capacity, and proffered recommendations based on their findings.
The findings of the aforementioned agency were appalling as it clearly revealed that cancer is one of the major causes of death in Sierra Leone. Their findings clearly established that about 3,000 people develop cancer in Sierra Leone every year and that approximately 200 people die of the ailment every year.
Another relevant finding that vividly exposed was the lack of the adequate human resource or trained medical personnel to passably handle cancer related issues and the unavailability of the appropriate equipment to handle cancer related issues in the country.
However, the IAEA experts recommended to the government that they should develop a comprehensive cancer control plan, including necessary palliative services with relevant training for health care professionals, to ensure cancer patients receive effective pain relief treatment.
If we are to defeat cancer as a nation, the government and its partners need to act fast in order to ensure effective measures are in place to tackle cancer from becoming another public health emergency.
The above recommendations must be acted upon immediately, owing to the fact that Sierra Leoneans are dying on a daily basis as a result of cancer.
At the launch of the cancer registry in June 2012, the then Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation Mr. Mahmoud Tarawalie assured Sierra Leoneans that the launch would mark the beginning of the next phase to treat and eventually eradicate cancer in Sierra Leone.
When Ebola break out in Guinea, the appropriate authorities in Sierra Leone trivialized it, until it eventually became a public health emergency that claimed the lives of many Sierra Leoneans, as well as devastated the country’s economy and exposed the appalling status of Sierra Leone health sector.
Today, we all seem to have forgotten the dangers we went through during the Ebola era; hence allowing other illnesses to gradually becoming a national threat.
Ebola might not come again, but cancer might transform into another public health emergency in Sierra Leone.