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Input to South Africa’s Draft – National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (NCCP)

In August 2017, the National Department of Health (NDoH) invited stakeholders to submit comments on a draft document of the NCCP for South Africa. This document was said to be providing an overview of the major cancer prevention and control initiatives, focused on the burden of cancer in South Africa.

CANSA, together with Cancer Alliance, reviewed the document and submitted comments to NDoH. Numerous comments and recommendations were made, including the fact that further work on the document is still required to ensure that the strategic framework and associated plan is a workable document for all stakeholders including provincial health departments and non-governmental organisations. We highlighted that cancer services, like many other health services in South Africa, are inequitably distributed and despite services being available in other provinces, these services are mainly concentrated in the Western Cape and Gauteng, and in most instances, may not be functioning optimally.

NDoH was urged to address the limitations facing the pathology-based National Cancer Registry as this is one of the reasons why cancer remains under-reported, reinforcing the belief that cancer is not a priority disease. The fact that the Childhood Cancer Registry is not part of the NCR is a limitation that needs to be recognised and corrected.

Inclusion of guiding principles were suggested as the Strategic Framework lacks a clear set of Guiding Principles for implementation and these should be clearly stated. It was suggested to focus on a Patient Centred Approach, providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions and promoting effective access to care and treatment.

Recommendations were made that Health Professionals’ training and support on cancer care and treatment should be a continuous process, considering that oncology care is considered a scarce skill.

For leadership, accountability, monitoring and evaluation to support the effective use of funds allocated for cancer prevention and control to maintain sustainability and ensure that all people have access to appropriate and effective health care.

For all stakeholders recommendations were made that they are to be urged to recognise the diversity of people and the impact of this on cultural and physical accessibility of programs and services including variations in urban, rural and remote areas. Civil society organisations should be accessible to all citizens.

The concluding remarks highlighted that Cancer Alliance wanted to reiterate the commitment in the development of a meaningful partnership with the Department of Health in the development process and implementation of the proposed Strategy for Cancer Prevention and Control as well as the subsequent National Cancer Plan.

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