On Sunday 4 February, people across the globe will be celebrating World Cancer Day in order to raise awareness of the millions of people world-wide who face unequal access to cancer detection, treatment, and care services.
This disease has recently been recognized by The World Health Organization (WHO) as the leading cause of global morbidity. Currently there is a serious push for urgent action to reduce the rate of premature cancer deaths on a global scale, while cancer leaders, health professionals and supporters across the world call for diagnostic and treatment access to be prioritized.
Professor Sanchia Aranda is the president of The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) as well as the CEO of Cancer Council Australia. She said the following:
“Set in 2011, the World Health Organization’s target to cut premature NCD deaths by 25% within 14 years is coming towards its half way mark. We can meet the target, but more action than ever will be required. Inequality in access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care makes reducing premature deaths from cancer difficult. If we are committed to achieving this goal, we must act quickly and decisively to make access to cancer services more equal all around the world.”
Globally, an estimated 8.8 million people die from cancer every year. However, it is the most ill-equipped countries who bear the brunt of this disease, with 70% of deaths occurring in developing countries. Child cancers also highlight the inequality factor that plays such a large role in cancer, as survival rates differ greatly between high-income and low-income countries. In South Africa, you have a 19% chance of being diagnosed with cancer before the age of 75, statistically speaking. In addition, there are 77 440 new cancer cases each year.
Professor Sanchia Aranda: “In the last year of the ‘We can. I can.’ campaign for World Cancer Day, we hope to inspire real action from governments and civil society in addressing the inequities in cancer diagnosis, treatment and care, which unfortunately largely affects the most vulnerable populations in every country. In Australia, while we maintain some of the best cancer outcomes in the world, national data shows that the gap between those in the highest and lowest socioeconomic groups is continuing to widen over time. These overlooked voices must be more forcefully represented in our discussions this World Cancer Day.”
As an urgent response to the global equity gap and the critical need for an in-country response, UICC officially launched, Treatment for All. It marks the second new initiative by UICC in as many years to mobilize national action to improve access to diagnosis and treatment for cancer, and is a direct acknowledgement that the cancer burden cannot be alleviated exclusively through prevention to reduce cancer incidence.
Dr Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer of UICC: “The tsunami of cancer cases anticipated in the coming decades requires a persuasive and robust response at all levels – global and national. Treatment for All, in tandem with its sister initiative, C/Can 2025: City Cancer Challenge, will work to accelerate progress by translating global commitments to evidence-, safety- and quality-based national actions.”