PNG is leading in the world and in the Pacific region with the cases of cancers of the mouth and throat, Health Minister Michael Malabag says.
The male population has the highest percentage in developing mouth cancer, but there is an indication that females can pick up in the rate of that cancer because of the trend in the increase in the number of women chewing and smoking.
“Betelnut chewing has associations with cancer of the mouth. 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 betelnut from all corners of PNG by both the young and the old.
“Cancers, including cancer of the mouth can be prevented if the practice of betelnut chewing aggressively is stopped,” Minister Malabag said.
He warned that the health system did not have enough cancer treatment specialists and equipment and practising suicidal habits like betelnut chewing was avoidable.
“More than 90% of mouth cancer patients seen at the Port Moresby General Hospital oral surgery clinic are associated with betelnut chewing.
“Environmental hygiene is equally important as unhygienic conditions can stimulate disease outbreaks such as malaria. When drainages are blocked with betelnut skins it creates stagnant water where mosquitoes breed easily.’’
Malabag said people at all levels could promote a healthy environment and settings aggressively because PNG had adopted the healthy island concept and 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 Betelnut,” Malabag said.