‘Cancer registration is a vital necessity in driving cancer surveillance activities. It plays a pertinent role in shaping cancer policies, informing key decision makers and driving intervention programmes forward,’ said Professor Themba Ginindza at UKZN’s Cancer & Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Research Unit (CIDERU) launch of the Population-Based Cancer Registry – a first of its kind in KwaZulu-Natal.
He said a population-based Cancer Registry is crucial for capturing and measuring the burden of cancer in the population. ‘This helps with policy review, planning and developing responsive services,’ added Ginindza.
Multinational Lung Cancer Control Programme (MLCCP) under CIDERU, in collaboration with the National Cancer Registry (NCR) under the leadership of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), launched the Registry at eGagasini Blue Waters Hotel in Durban The launch was attended by oncologists, diagnosticians, doctors, hospital managers, clinical managers, health district managers, primary healthcare facility managers, hospice managers, pharmacy managers, private hospital groups, council for medical schemes, public health researchers, health journalists, and members of the community with cancer-specific interest.
‘Reliable cancer statistics are essential in the planning of cancer prevention and control interventions in healthcare sectors,’ said Acting HOD of SA’s National Cancer Registry, Dr Mazvita Muchengeti. Speaking on South African regulations relating to cancer registration, she highlighted the importance of cancer surveillance and commended CIDERU for its work. UKZN’s Dr Nkosana Jafta, Academic Leader of Research in the School of Nursing and Public Health, unpacked the logistics of establishing a population-based cancer registry in KwaZulu-Natal, while Clinical and Radiation Oncologist at eThekwini Oncology Complex at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and Addington Hospital gave an overview of oncology services and cancer records keeping in KZN’s public sector.
Radiation Oncologist and Managing Director at Hopelands Cancer Centre, Dr Ziad Seedat, shared insight on the workings of oncology services and cancer record-keeping in the private sector.
‘Through hard work, we are hoping to have the KwaZulu-Natal Population-Based Cancer Registry into the African Cancer Registries Network,’ said MLCCP’s Cancer Registrar, Ms Noluthando Mbeje. She also challenged stakeholders to play a part in making sure that South Africa has its own data to estimate the burden of cancer because currently, the data is taken from neighbouring countries.
Former Head of Medical Oncology at the University of the Witwatersrand and former Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Cancer Control Prevention, Professor Paul Ruff, closed the day on a high note with a presentation on cancer registration in low and middle-income counties.
The highlight of the day was a presentation by breast cancer patient, Mrs Chumani Mkhize from Sobantu in Pietermaritzburg. Mkhize was diagnosed with cancer in 2021, just when she was about to retire from work. She said the support she received from the project was very instrumental in encouraging her to complete the chemo. She urged other cancer patients, especially males, to never give up. She also appealed to government to maintain cancer equipment at public hospitals.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph: Themba Ginindza