The First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for renewed discussions and subsequent action towards addressing the issue of cost in the treatment of cancer on the continent.
With cancer treatment taking a serious financial toll on many patients, the Head of the Rebecca Foundation believes that “creating the necessary awareness may get an individual to know their cancer status but the reality though is that sometimes, they simply cannot afford the treatment.
Previous studies have shown that financial problems are linked to higher overall distress, lower health-related quality of life, and lower satisfaction with cancer care.
She disclosed this at the opening of a cancer event attended by the President of the Union for International Cancer Control, Princess Dina Mired of Jordan and organized by the Association of representatives of Ethical Pharmaceutical Industries at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra.
According to her, with out-of-pocket costs for treatment and other medications on the high, “we must begin to think of and treat cancers as we think of and treat diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS and that both the public and private sectors, must support our people to have unhindered access to cancer care.
She continued that, “Payers and by this, I mean both private and public health insurance, must cover as many cancers as possible, in their benefit packages and we must finance the training of more healthcare professionals, to acquire the needed skills to manage cancer patients. In fact, some patients may be cured depending on the type of cancer and intervention given.”
Touching on the need for awareness, the First Lady indicated that though the diagnosis of breast and cervical cancers in Ghana is free, yet many of our women are not aware.
“We know also that a critical number of patients seek hospital care when the diseases are advanced compromising their chances at a positive outcome. We do know however that cancer when detected early with appropriated access to treatment, has a better success rate and outcome.” She said.
She was confident that a closer collaboration between all stakeholders, will contribute to overcome the challenges of cancer management.
“We need to come together. No one person can do it. There must be synergy between academia, healthcare practitioners, civil society organizations, drug companies, governments, payers, the patients and many others. We must each play our roles, while complementing the roles of other stakeholders. In this battle we are all on one side with a common enemy. If we must win, we have to come together and work together.” She stressed.