COMOROS—The Ministry of Health in Comoros has revealed a comprehensive roadmap for enhancing cancer control capacity for the benefit of its citizens.

This initiative follows a thorough imPACT Review conducted in Comoros by a multidisciplinary team of experts appointed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Health Organization (WHO), and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) towards the end of 2023.

The primary objective of the review was to guide the Ministry of Health on cancer control needs and priorities, covering all aspects of cancer control from prevention to palliative care.

The insights gathered from this mission will inform the development of a National Cancer Control Plan, marking a significant stride toward introducing radiation medicine to the country in a safe and secure manner.

National experts collaborated closely with the international team throughout the mission, demonstrating a shared commitment to offering guidance and counsel.

However, Comoros faces challenges in assessing its cancer situation due to the absence of a population-based national cancer registry, a concern emphasized by IARC experts.

 Globocan 2022 estimates revealed 619 new cases of cancer and 418 cancer-related deaths among Comoros’ population of 836,000, with cervical, prostate, and breast cancers emerging as the most prevalent forms.

WHO attributes 45 percent of all deaths in the country to non-communicable diseases, including cancer.

Despite the potential benefits of radiation medicine in treating approximately 50 percent of all cancer cases, Comoros currently lacks radiotherapy services.

However, preparations are underway to establish such services, in line with a key recommendation from the mission experts for establishing a multidisciplinary committee tasked with coordinating all aspects of cancer control.

Efforts to improve the prevention and early detection of breast and cervical cancer, particularly among women, received attention during discussions.

Civil society organizations like the Comorian Association for the Fight against Women and Girls Cancers (ACCF) are actively engaged in screening and detection efforts, with support from the WHO Comoros country office.

During the announcement, Minister of Health Loub-Yakouti Attoumane emphasized the government’s commitment to the fight against cancer, highlighting that the roadmap was formulated based on recommendations from WHO, IAEA, and IARC experts.

On his part, Ali Mohamed Ali, Director General of Higher Education and Research at the Ministry of National Education and IAEA National Liaison Officer, underscored Comoros’ efforts in establishing a legal framework to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers interacting with radiation medicine.

Discussions are ongoing to establish a national radiation protection regulatory body to oversee these priorities, a move hailed by Michel Warnau, Section Head in the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation, as a crucial step towards introducing therapy safely and securely in the country.

 Once enacted, the comprehensive nuclear law will pave the way for technical cooperation projects to operationalize the national radiation protection regulatory body and address therapy-related recommendations from the mission, particularly through specialized human resources training.

Comoros has sought support through Rays of Hope, an IAEA initiative that aims to expand access to radiation medicine worldwide.

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