CARPHA and Vital Strategies Sign New Agreement to Strengthen Cancer Data Collection Systems in Jamaica

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The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), Jamaica, to strengthen cancer surveillance and cancer control. 

CARPHA, and Vital Strategies a global health organisation signed a Subgrant Agreement to provide funding support for the project: ‘Using DHIS2 to Strengthen Cancer Registration Data Systems in Low-resourced Countries: From Rwanda to Jamaica’. This project is funded through Vital Strategies’ Global Grants Program, through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative.

The launch of the project took place on October 24, 2023 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, Jamaica. However, the project activities began as early as September 1, 2023. Activities included a training workshop to strengthen the capacity of the MOHW Jamaica Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) surveillance team to identify, collect and code data on cancer-based recommended standards. Twenty-nine persons representing the four regional health authorities (RHAs) and four persons from the MoHW, Jamaica, participated in the training. Participants included epidemiologists, NCD coordinators, nursing supervisors, information and communication technology officers, health records administrators and data entry clerks.

Jamaica, one of CARPHA’s Member States, is the first Caribbean country; and second in the world to pilot the District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2) Oncology module, which was initially developed and implemented by the Rwanda National Cancer Registry.

Under this agreement valued at US$100,000, the project will improve cancer control by operationalising a data collection and reporting system that will improve the availability of national cancer data, which can be used by the Ministry of Health and Wellness Jamaica to guide cancer prevention and control strategies. Funding support is also being provided by the MoHW, Jamaica.

The launch of the project kicked off with welcome remarks from Dr. Simone Spence, Director of Health Promotion and Protection, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Jamaica. “Cancer registration is critical to informing health promotion efforts and the MoHW looks ahead with great anticipation at the profound impact of the DHIS 2 Oncology module in improving cancer registration in Jamaica.”

Dr. The Honourable Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness delivered the keynote address. “The current cancer burden in Jamaica, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, is stunning and requires our collective and urgent attention, beginning with our attention to data. Registries are vital. The fact is that there is a prevailing need for local data to guide response, policy development and programme monitoring and evaluation to achieve comprehensive cancer prevention and control. The project is to improve cancer control by operationalising a data collection and reporting system that will improve the availability of national cancer data, which can be used by the Ministry to guide cancer prevention and control strategies locally.”

Also speaking at the launch, CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John stated, “Surveillance systems are critical tools aimed at improving the early detection of diseases, but cancer registration is different. We collect, store, and analyse data for people who are already afflicted with this disease. Access to population-wide information on cancer incidence is critical for understanding cancer burden; planning and monitoring of national cancer prevention and control programmes; and defining priorities in cancer prevention, treatment, and care. As we expand and strategically enhance the establishment of other registries in the region, we hope that this module can be identified as a tool to support the development of the sub-regional cancer registry for the OECS.”

Dr. Magdalena Paczkowski, Director of the Vital Strategies’ Cancer Registry Program, funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative: “Our activities have focused on strengthening human resources and infrastructure to support cancer data collection, technical assistance to inform standard operating procedures and strategic planning, as well as training on cancer registry principles and methods, including using CanReg5.  This included the new DHIS 2 Oncology Module, created through working with IARC, the Rwanda Biomedical Center and the Rwanda National Cancer Registry, and CARPHA, alongside other partners. This work will now be strengthened through GPP’s support to implement this new module in Jamaica.”

Head of Chronic Disease and Injury at CARPHA, Dr. Heather Armstrong provided a project overview. “The project will install, customise, and test an oncology module using a health information management platform called DHIS2 to enable population-wide reporting on cancer burden by the National Cancer Registry of Jamaica. Additional areas of collaboration include capacity building and training in the use of the module; strengthened IT infrastructure; and piloting the module.”

The project grant will run until December 2024.

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