PNG tops cancer chart

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday October 28th, 2013


PAPUA New Guinea has one of the highest number of mouth and throat cases in the Pacific region, Health Minister Michael Malabag said.

“Betel nut chewing has association with cancer of the mouth,” he said. 

“Papua New Guinea has the highest incidence of mouth cancer in the world. 

“And I am sure this is attributed to the wide and rampant use of betel nuts in all corners of PNG by young and old. Cancers, including cancer of the mouth, can be prevented if the practice of betel nut chewing is stopped.”

The warning comes as Port Moresby prepares to totally ban 

betel nut sale and chewing from Friday.

Malabag said men had the highest risk of developing mouth cancer. 

But women are quickly picking up on it because of the increase in the number of women chewing betel nuts and smoking.

He warned that the health system did not have enough cancer treatment specialists and equipment. 

And practising suicidal habits such as betel nut chewing was avoidable.

“More than 90% of mouth cancer patients seen at the Port Moresby General Hospital oral surgery 

clinic are associated with betel nut chewing,” he said.

“Environmental hygiene is equally important as unhygienic conditions can stimulate disease outbreaks such as malaria. 

“When drainages are blocked with betel nut skins, it creates stagnant water where mosquitoes breed easily.”

Malabag said everyone can promote a healthy environment because PNG had adopted the healthy island concept. 

“People must be seen to be promoting healthy settings in their communities.

“It is of good health and hygiene that, from this day on, we all should consider making the right choice – stop chewing betel nut,” Malabag said.