Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has said making available quality health data on the population is important for enabling government in its policy formulation, as well as putting in place the necessary financing or investments required in the area of healthcare.
“There are multiple players in healthcare that require data for valuable investments. Health data generates income for some countries. Clinical trials, research and budgeting – all require data. But data is not valuable if it is just that… and not useful,” he noted.
Given this, he said, data capture related to childhood cancers and other cancers to ensure that investments in healthcare are well-informed must be prioritised.
“Reducing wastage is a key means of enabling that efficiency we desire, which will ultimately support the sustainability of this journey we have embarked on,” he added.
The Vice President was speaking on the theme ‘Leveraging Technology, Data and Innovation in assuring sustainable and innovative childhood cancer services in Ghana – Securing our children’s future’ at a symposium, and recognised some of the challenges in cancer care.
“One key challenge is that between private and public sector healthcare institutions there is limited sharing of data. As such, data presently available may not adequately represent our full population even if it includes childhood cancers.”
It is against this background that he calls for data harmonisation while enabling easy exchange.
“It will be key for us to have standard platforms across the private and public sectors which enable easy access and top-quality data that inform work going forward.
“Extraction of population-level data and their analysis will enable favourable investment and development of strategies that are directly impactful to our people.”
Among other things, Dr. Bawumia announced that the treatments for childhood cancers, as well as the cost of Hydroxyurea – an essential drug for the treatment of sickle-cell anaemia, will now be covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
He announced that payment for the treatment of childhood cancers under the NHIS became effective on 1st July 2022, and plans are far advanced to add treatment for other forms of cancer to the list of ailments covered by NHIS.
“We have started with four cancers among children for now, but we are determined to expand that in due course. As we know, incremental improvement is always the way; and exponential impact should not be compromised when it comes to healthcare.
“Our children’s present and future can only be secured if all the factors which threaten their existence and quality of life are eliminated. We are determined to make it happen, and we should not relent,” he added.
Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu – also speaking at the event, said Ghana has prioritised cancer as one of the top-five non-communicable diseases highlighted in the Non-Communicable Disease Policy and Strategy launched in April 2022.
He said it is government’s priority to help address the challenges of late-stage diagnosis of cancers, including childhood cancers.
The Head of Paediatric Oncology at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr, Vivian Paintsil, stated that childhood cancers have an 80 percent chance of a cure if detected early.