Central Cancer Registry for SAARC Countries: Turning a Dream into Reality

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A registry is a central database; documenting all the cases with certain characteristics. Such database not only helps in the audit of participating hospitals but also provides the government with valuable information to make a better health policy. Moreover, it provides researchers the data to conduct epidemiological and outcome studies. In the last few decades, many such registries have been made in all the specialties of medicine including cancer.

When it comes to first-world countries, cancer registries are one of oldest and largest registries in healthcare. Although similar registries for cancer exist in South Asian countries as well; they all suffer from the common problem of under-reported cases. Since there is no accreditation system in any of these countries, cases are reported on a volunteer basis. The result is that few hospitals participate in these registries and even fewer cases are reported from these participating hospitals. Incomplete information on the incidence, causative factors and course of disease is one of the biggest obstacles in tailoring the cancer care according to regional requirements.

In South Asian countries, most procedures are adopted from Western countries which have different demographics. Where we have made our regional guidelines, they are based on evidence from western studies. It is time for us to change our management practices with more emphasis on evidence based medicine using our regional statistics. The only way this is possible is by having a central registry for all SAARC countries, in which participation should be mandatory for all hospitals. Such a registry will not only help us in making uniform guidelines but will also make sure that these guidelines are followed uniformly in hospitals across the region.

Now that the internet and other means of communication are becoming cheaper and more common, this initiative looks more feasible than ever. While many hurdles need to be overcome before such a registry becomes a reality, it is high time we star working for it with the hope that one day our efforts will pave the way for better care for our patients.

Article resource AFP

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