The BNR Cancer team (l to r) Barbados National Registry Director, Angela Rose;????Registrar,??Rhea Harewood and??Data Abstractor,??Jacqueline Campbell.
According to The American Cancer Society’s 2008 report on the Global Economic Cost of Cancer, the economic toll from the illness is nearly 20 per cent higher than heart disease, with lost years of life and productivity representing "the single largest drain on the global economy" compared to HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
??With this, and the escalating costs associated with health care in Barbados, in mind, the Ministry of Health is continuing in its efforts to reduce the incidence of cancer and other chronic non-communicable diseases and the Barbados National Registry for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (BNR) is key to this strategy.??
The BNR started with the creation of the BNR-Stroke in 2008, which collects information on persons suffering from a stroke nationwide.?? This was followed in 2009 by the BNR-Heart, which collects information on all persons who have experienced a heart attack and the BNR-Cancer, implemented in July 2010, to conduct surveillance and gather information on all persons in Barbados diagnosed with cancer.??
Registrar of the BNR-Cancer, Rhea Harewood, explained that information was vital to the development of health policies and programmes for the prevention, control and treatment of cancer, as well as to evaluate the effect of screening programmes and the development of cancer research on the island.?? However, the BNR could only function effectively with the full support of the Barbadian public and all health care professionals.
The BNR-Cancer specifically requires information from persons diagnosed with cancer since 2008 and statistics gathered will provide data for the evaluation of preventive, diagnostic and treatment interventions.??
According to local legislation, cancer is a notifiable disease, which means that it is the legal duty and responsibility of doctors to notify the Ministry of Health about each patient diagnosed with cancer.?? The registry official further pointed out that according to the World Health Organisation, the burden of cancer could be reduced through the implementation of established strategies for the prevention, early detection and management of cancer patients. She outlined that one of the best ways to inform this approach was through a national surveillance system, such as the population-based BNR.
"In order to plan effective strategies, we need to know the extent of the problem we are dealing with – that is, the cancer burden in our population," Ms. Harewood emphasised.?? "Data gathered will include the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed each year, the number of persons dying from the disease, the number of persons who survive their illnesses, and the frequency of the different types of cancer.?? We will also be able to assess trends over time, once the registry has been running for several years," she added.
The Registrar encouraged persons who had recently been diagnosed with cancer to request that their doctor notify the BNR-Cancer by calling the hotline at 256-4BNR or 4267.
The BNR has been designed following internationally used methodology, to ensure absolute confidentiality of all persons registered and the highest international standards of data protection and encryption.
The official noted that some English-speaking Caribbean counterparts, for example, Trinidad and Guyana, have been successfully running cancer registries for several years, but the BNR-Cancer is the first national cancer registry to collect information on all types of cancer.
The agreement to establish the BNR was signed between the Ministry of Health and The University of the West Indies (UWI) in August 2007.?? The cancer registry was officially launched by the Ministry of Health in March 2009 with the European Union providing technical assistance and funding, through its European Development Fund programme. ??
The BNR has also benefited from support provided by local agencies, and the Barbados Cancer Association USA (BACA) Inc. whose generous financial donations have been of great assistance. It is hoped that the important work being undertaken by the registry will be given the recognition it deserves, as the agency strives to respond to the impact and consequences of chronic diseases, while contributing to their optimal management and prevention.
The multi-chronic disease registry, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, is managed by the Chronic Disease Research Centre of The UWI, located at Jemmott’s Lane, St. Michael. The BNR can be reached via the hotline number, Mondays to Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.?? Voice-mail messages may also be left after hours and on weekends.??