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Availability and readiness of services for cancer care at health facilities in Ethiopia: Implication for action

Terefe Gelibo
Theodros Getachew
Abebe Bekele
Atkure Defar
Kassahun Amenu
Mekonnen Taddesse
Habtamu Teklie
Yibeltal Assefa
Amha Kebede


Background: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading causes of death globally. Available data demonstrate that nearly 80% of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Of these deaths, an estimated 1.5 million, or 4% were due to cancer. In Ethiopia, data on the preparedness of health facilities to cope with the rising epidemic of cancer are insufficient. Therefore, this survey was aimed to assess service availability and readiness for cancer health care in Ethiopia.
Methods: The data used in this study is part of the 2014 Ethiopian service provision assessment survey which was conducted from 10 March to 25 July, 2014. There were a total of 873 health facilities included in this particular study. The facility inventory questionnaire collected information on whether the providers in the facility manage patients with cancer. Information about the readiness of facilities to provide good-quality client services on cancer, including the availability of guidelines and trained staff were also collected.
Results: Among all health facilities, 23% of health facilities offer services for cancer. Of the facilities that offer service for cancer, 8 % of them had guidelines for diagnosis and management of cancer at the service site during the survey and only 4 % of the facilities had staff reported that he/she or someone else in the facility had received in-service training in cancer diseases during the 24 months preceding the survey.
Conclusions and recommendation: The findings indicate that there is a wide gap in service provision for cancer care and must be filled if basic standards are to be met for cancer care by the health care system. The health system strengthening including provision of evidence-based national guidelines, protocols or standards for managing cancer, training of providers and availing essential medicines are urgently needed for cancer service provision in Ethiopia. 

Key words; Availability, cancer, Ethiopia, health facilities, readiness, service

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eISSN: 1021-6790