The country’s cancer control programme is expected to be strengthened following an assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since Monday, March 4, a high-level team from IAEA has been carrying out a comprehensive evaluation of the country’s cancer control capacity in the areas of cancer planning, cancer information, prevention, diagnosis and treatment, palliative care, and training. Coming out of the appraisal, the team will make recommendations for the development of the island’s cancer control capabilities. Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who met with the IAEA representatives at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in Kingston on Tuesday, March 5, welcomed the assessment, noting that it will provide “a quantum shift in how we deal with cancer care in Jamaica”. He noted that the cancer care agenda is one of the priority areas of the administration, as it seeks to reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica. Currently, NCDs account for more than 56 per cent of deaths in the country, 21 per cent of which is due to cancer. “Jamaica made a commitment, in the global community, to reduce NCDs by 25 per cent by 2025, and we intend to do everything in our power to meet that target,” he stated. The Minister informed that in meeting the target, Jamaica has formulated its first strategic plan for NCDs. The plan addresses the four major conditions causing death and morbidity in the country, namely: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory diseases; and the four major risk factors – physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco use. Discussions with the IAEA representatives focused on cancer control planning and management, epidemiology, cancer prevention, early detection and screening, diagnosis and treatment, radiation oncology and palliative care.