Mrs Laura Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Maggie’s Centre, a Cancer Support Centre in Scotland, has called on health practitioners to use good communications skills to lessen the burden of cancer patients in the country.

“Good communication is a route to good emotional support. When information is given in a manner the patient understands at his own pace, anxiety created by the disease is reduced,” she said.

Mrs Lee made the call at the two-day workshop organised by management of AfrOx, a UK-based NGO established to improve delivery of cancer care in Sub Saharan Africa in Accra.

She noted that patients formed better partnerships and felt more confident when health practitioners used good communication skills.

“When you ask questions and listen to how the patient expresses his feelings, it enhances his well being and provides helpful feedback to the medical practitioner as well,” she added.

Mrs Lee said although the impact of bad news could not be softened, practitioners could assist patients to adjust to the message by the manner it was delivered.

“Break the news in simple but clear language. Pause and wait for a response from the patient,” she said.

Using interactive sessions throughout the training workshop, Mrs Lee told the participants to practice the knowledge acquired to improve health care delivery in the country.

Mrs Gladys Boateng, Executive Director of Reach for Recovery Ghana, a Breast Cancer Support Group and Counselling Centre in Accra, said the level of breast cancer awareness in the country was low due to ignorance leading to high cancer mortality.

“Some breast cancer patients when informed about the disease, feel it is a death sentence imposed on them but this is not true. “You can survive on early detection,” she said.

Mrs Boateng, who has survived breast cancer for the past 10 years, said she was motivated by the medical team that visited her at a hospital in South Africa, where she had her surgery, to establish a centre to provide support to breast cancer patients and survivors.

She called on institutions, organisations and religious groups to support the centre.

Mr Michael Mordey, Principal Radiotherapist at National Centre for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra, said the workshop was ideal to assist health practitioners, patients and their families to understand better health care delivery and pledged to practise good communications skills at the centre.

Mr Samuel Obiri Yeboah, a pharmacist at Radiotherapy Department, KBTH, stressed the need for outreach programmes to sensitise the public on early detection and diagnosis of cancer.

He appealed to Government to include cancer patients in the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Mrs Juliet Amewu, a nursing officer at Cervical Cancer Screening Unit, Ridge Hospital in Accra, called for continuity of health care delivery at the community level in patients declared terminally ill.

“Specialists should be at the communities to care for patients medically declared terminally ill to reduce their pain, suffering and ease the burden at the hospitals,” she said.

source: GNA