Governor Togiola Signs Cancer Registry Amendment
Planning for cancer control in American Samoa requires decisions to be made based on the amount of information that you have. How many women over the age of 40 were diagnosed with breast cancer, how many men over the age of 50 were diagnosed with prostate cancer, how many cancer patients left the territory to be treated in Honolulu or Los Angeles, are all questions on how we plan for necessities such as cancer screening or treatment. All of this information is housed in a database called a cancer registry, a database that can answer those questions for physicians, researchers, and lawmakers hopefully improving the quality of cancer care in American Samoa. On Monday, April 19th, Governor Togiola signed into law, an amendment to the current cancer registry law (A.S.C.A 13.0401-13.0403) that will further the improvement.
The amendment, allows the territory to enter into an interstate data exchange agreement that tracks patients who reside in American Samoa to be counted into the current cancer registry. For years, as patients leave to be treated for cancer, they are counted within that areas registry. Sometimes inflating their numbers and hurting ours, this in turn leads to less federal dollars to help with screening and possibly treatment.
In a letter to President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau and Speaker of the House Savali Talavou Ale, Governor Togiola said “the exchange of this data will help us to improve the ways and the basis for a more effective way of treating cancer as a Territory.”
This also comes as an important piece of legislation for two other organizations, the Department of Health, the agency that is mandated to house the registry, and the American Samoa Community Cancer Coalition (ASCCC).
“Data is a very important planning piece. Without the correct information, your whole planning strategy can be thrown off and at the end, people would eventually be hurt by it,” explained Director Tuiasina Dr. Salamo Laumoli.
The ASCCC, a local non-profit organization, developed the first Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan for the Territory. Chairperson of the ASCCC, Ms. Jennifer Tofaeono, stated “We are happy that Governor Togiola noticed the importance of the amendments to the cancer registry law, and we were also happy that others within the Fono agreed with the Governor’s request and responded steadfastly.”
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