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The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the burden on cancer patients and brought new urgency to the need to securely share and consult patient records, says the Barbados National Registry (BNR).

In its message to mark World Cancer Day, the Registry stated that the “new normal” required the ability to access reports and patient data remotely for accurate risk assessment and treatment planning.

The BNR, the agency charged with collecting data on cancer incidence in Barbados, called for the establishment of an integrated health information management system to access patient data as well as for the review and acceptance of the National Cancer Action Plan.

“These two actions can improve overall cancer care, as well as give decision-makers the resources to make decisions critical to care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency explained.

The Registry was established in 2009 by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and its aim is to provide “information for action”.

“Pivotal to our ability to provide critical information in a timely manner is the ability to access patient data through structured health system frameworks. Paper-based records and a lack of an adequate health information system limit our ability to provide annual reports on cancer in Barbados. This can place a drain on those clerical and information management professionals who provide the relevant information,” it stated.

According to the Registry, the World Health Organization launched an integrated approach to cancer prevention and control in 2017, which included recommendations to integrate and scale-up national cancer prevention and control as part of national responses to non-communicable diseases; and collect high-quality population-based incidence and mortality data on cancer through population-based cancer registries, household surveys and other health information systems in order to guide policies and plans.

“Together, we can, through advocacy, impress upon policy makers the need to take actions that further improve cancer care in Barbados. Together, all of our actions matter,” the BNR emphasised.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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