A reply by the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, to a DA parliamentary question revealed that the Department of Health (DOH) has not updated the cancer register for the last eight years. The last updated was completed in 2004. The Minister also confirmed that statistics on cancer mortality were last updated in 2009.
Updating the cancer register and mortality statistics is crucial in the fight against cancer as this information provides focus and direction to our health programmes and research.
According to the South African Health Review published in 2011, 84 180 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, with the figure rising to 109 956 by 2025.
A register would assess the prevalence of the different types of cancer and identify the geographical areas and the demographics affected by the disease. This information would then be used to drive appropriately directed early detection initiatives, such as awareness campaigns and testing, and to strategically allocate human and medical resources to the correct facilities and areas.
The register and mortality statistics would also serve to direct research initiatives on prevention, detection and treatment.
I will today be writing to Minister Motsoaledi highlighting the urgent need to update the cancer register and mortality statistics. I will also request that he table a report to the Portfolio Committee on Health regarding the steps he is taking to ensure that these data are updated.
In South Africa we have seen how emphasising and providing detailed information on the scourge of HIV/Aids led to effective information campaigns, advocacy and treatment that are yielding results.
We must duplicate these successes in the fight against cancer.
Denise Robinson, Shadow Deputy Minister of Health