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Pakistani students in a cancer awareness walk. – AFP Photo (File)

ISLAMABAD: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been requested to send a review mission to the country for a comprehensive assessment of its cancer control capacity and needs, it is learnt.

The request was forwarded by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Austria Khurshid Anwar to IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano in Vienna recently. The agency will send an “Impact Review” mission over the next 12 months in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and other partner organisations.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Pakistan has an annual cancer incidence of almost 140,000 with a mortality rate of over 100,000. The most common among women are breast and cervical cancers with a combined incidence of over 31,000 per year. Lung and lip/oral cavity cancers top the list among men at the rate of about 14,000 cases every year.

The mission is of considerable importance as Pakistan has begun to decentralise specific health functions to provincial health departments. The ‘imPACT Review’ mission will help identify countrywide plans, strategies and approaches to effectively address the disease.

The aim is to come up with a national assessment of institutional capacities and needs relating to different aspects of cancer control efforts, including cancer control planning, information and registration, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, palliative care, training and civil society activities.

To accomplish this task, the IAEA will send a team of experts who will meet stakeholders from federal ministries and provincial health departments, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), oncology centres, regional hospitals, public and private institutions, primary healthcare facilities and universities.

The World Cancer Day is being observed on Monday (today) in a bid to decrease the number of millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness about cancer and pressing governments and individuals to take action against the disease.

Cancer is a leading cause of death across the world. More than two-thirds of the new cancer cases and deaths are reported from developing countries where the incidence of the disease continues to increase at alarming rates.