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National Strategic Plan aims to increase survival rate and control cancer

With cancer being one of the leading causes of death in Belize, a national consultation is being held to develop a national strategic plan to address the problem.  Love News spoke with Dr. Marvin Manzanero, the Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, who said that the strategic plan also takes into consideration preventative measures.

Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We have different actors doing different levels of work in terms of cancer. We have civil society organizations, NGOs, we have the Ministry of Health, we have the cancer center down in Dangriga providing services so what we’re trying to do is to have a more structure organized approach. At the Ministry of Health we also don’t have a funding aspect for it, we don’t have a specific call center that deals with cancer so part of what we’re trying to do is align the work we are doing to ensure that we have a more cohesive approach that is more efficient because it is needed; I mean cancer is the second leading cause of death when you look at the overall mortality in Belize. We are looking at the possibility of starting to delivery cancer care services not only in terms of the actual medication but prevention aspects, palliative care when there are cases that are too advance where you can’t be on treatment. So there are many different aspects that I think we are trying to zone in. We are aware of lots of persons going across the border either to Guatemala or Mexico or further away for cancer treatment so the intention is to be able to provide those services in a comprehensive kind of way in Belize.”

Laura Tucker-Longsworth, the past president of the Belize Cancer Society, said that the comprehensive plan will be able to reflect the roles and responsibilities of each player.
Laura Tucker-Longsworth, Past President, Belize Cancer Society

Laura Tucker-Longsworth, Past President, Belize Cancer Society: “Our statistics show clearly how severely impacted people in Belize are with cancer and so the community should know that this is very important to their health and their survival so we want to make sure that we increase the survival rate of our community but at the same time move towards a healthier society so reducing some of those risk factors, moving away from tobacco, abuse of alcohol, fats, obesity and all those things that contribute to putting us at risk for cancer. It’s very important to know that the scientific data clearly shows that 60% of cancers are related to other risk factors.”

The initiative is being supported by the Pan American Health Organization and funded by the European Union.