Cancer experts on Saturday stressed the need for a population based cancer registry to facilitate a better understanding of the spread of the disease in Bangladesh.
At a discussion in the capital’s Lalmatia, they said that the registry was inevitable for obtaining accurate information on cancer incidence, prevalence and death rates in Bangladesh to tackle the disease better.
Centre for Cancer Prevention and Research, a non-government organisation that worked on cancer awareness, organised the discussion.
National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital epidemiology department head Habibullah Talukder Ruskin said that Bangladesh lacked a population based cancer registry and depended on different estimations of cancer burden given by different international agencies.
‘We need modern treatment facilities for cancer but the cancer registry is a basic need to tackle the disease,’ he said.
‘We would not succeed in fighting cancer if this basic need is not met,’ he added.
Habibullah said that the government did not feel the urgency of a cancer registry yet and take many high-spending projects to tackle cancer.
‘A cancer registry would coast merely Tk 2 crore whereas we buy cancer treatment equipment for Tk 10 crore… A cancer registry would help us plan to combat cancer better,’ he said.
Habibullah said that Bangladesh still lacked adequate cancer treatment facilities, including health care centres in regional areas and adequate cancer specialists.
He said that there were only nine government hospitals that treated cancer in Bangladesh — two in Dhaka and one each in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Bogra, Barisal, Mymensingh, Rangpur and Sylhet—and most of these hospitals had no full-fledged department.
Most cancer patients could not afford treatment in Bangladesh because of lack of facilities, doctors and high expenditure, Habibullah said.
He said that at least 25 per cent of the cancer budget should be spent on prevention and building awareness.
Prevention would reduce the cost and burden of the disease, he said.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University gynecological oncology department head Sabera Khatun said that non-communicable diseases were taking a toll on Bangladeshis and cancer was one of the major NCDs.
‘Although the government places much focus on the NCDs, the cancer issue remains mostly unaddressed,’ she said.
Sabera said that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organisation, in a recent report said that about 1.08 lakh people died of cancer and 1.5 lakh people contracted cancer in Bangladesh every year.
Sabera said that the figures were estimates given on the basis of the analysis of population of our surrounding countries which was an inaccurate representation of the cancer scenario in Bangladesh, making the need for the registry all the more relevant.
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