June 17, 2020
“Education is key to helping families support patients”
City Cancer Challenge (C/Can) talks to the Hon. Osei Assibey Antwi, Mayor of Kumasi, Ghana
With a population of 4.7 million, Kumasi is Ghana’s second-largest city and the capital of the Ashanti region. Since joining C/Can at the end of 2017, some 250 professionals from over 30 healthcare institutions have contributed data to a comprehensive assessment of cancer care needs.
At the same time, over the last year, eight projects have been prioritised and developed in the areas of radiotherapy, pathology, palliative care and cancer registration.
Early achievements include the allocation of a dedicated office and meeting space for the cancer registry, supported by City Hall, and the creation of three multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary care focus groups for breast and cervical cancer, as well as radiotherapy.
Q: If you had to define City Cancer Challenge in three ways, what would they be?
Hon. Osei Assibey Antwi: City-led, multi-sectorial and patient-centred.
Q: What does City Cancer Challenge mean for the city of Kumasi?
Hon. Osei Assibey Antwi: It means a lot, because this is a project that has been able to bring health professionals together and continues to do so, from major stakeholders, like the leadership of the city, along with the traditional authorities, and also patients, in order to fight for a common goal.
Q: What is the value of addressing the problem of cancer from a city perspective?
Hon. Osei Assibey Antwi: There are a number of relevant issues to be taken into consideration. The first is the support of patients’ families. Until C/Can started working in Ghana, a lot of patients who were suffering from cancer, thought that there wasn’t a cure. But now we are working with C/Can, we’ve been able to step up education to such an extent that now, families are supporting patients. There was also another problem: our approach to fighting cancer was fragmented, with hospitals and other care providers working individually. The quality of care we now see is due to the simple reason that all healthcare stakeholders are working together. At the same time, we now have political support, starting with the presidency through to the Minister of Health and including myself, as the president’s representative here – we’ve all come together to fight cancer. And of course, we also have the support of all the other major stakeholders, those groups that are helping to educate, helping to fight cancer, not because they are paid to do so, but to help society.
Q: Would you recommend other cities to join City Cancer Challenge and why?
Hon. Osei Assibey Antwi: Yes, for the simple reason that in the past, a lot of projects were put together by taking a centralized approach, and we haven’t achieved much. But the arrival of C/Can means we have been able to provide crucial healthcare for cancer patients by taking a multi-sectoral approach that involves patients themselves.
Watch the full interview with Mayor Antwi here.