Cancer: A global problem
By Jennifer Argent
World Cancer Day occurs on 4th February every year in an attempt to draw attention to the global problem of cancer. Cancer is an issue all over the world and recent statistics show that across the globe over 10 million people die each year as a result of suffering from this condition. Ten million people is more than the entire population of London in 2020. If the calculations are correct then that’s more people than those dying from AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis combined. What’s worse is that experts project deaths from cancer to increase.
Close the Gap
World Cancer day chooses a different focus each year and this year they are campaigning to ‘Close the Gap’. What they mean by this is that across the world there are stark inequities in fighting cancer. They note that over 65% of cancer deaths are happening in the least developed parts of the world.
There are inequities in income, education, location and even discriminations due to ethnicity, gender, age and disability which are still having a negative effect on cancer care. For example, the World Health Organisation reports that late stage presentation is more common in low and middle-income countries. World Cancer Day reports that in New Zealand, Maori are twice as likely to die from cancer than those who are not Maori.
Early detection is crucial
Early detection of cancer can lead to huge improvements in life expectancy following a cancer diagnosis. However, often these detection and screening schemes are not widely available in lower income countries. The World Health Organisation launched the Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR) in 2011 which aims to accurately measure the burden of cancer with a view to improving health, economic and social outcomes.
The GICR realises that equitable access to cancer prevention and treatment can save lives. Once the data is gathered it is then shared across its Regional Hubs to coordinate the distribution of knowledge and resources. This programme will ultimately continue to benefit millions of people across the globe.
The UICC is also fighting a global fight against cancer and they reported in June 2020 that five HPV vaccine manufacturers had committed to provide sufficient HPV doses for 84 million girls to support immunisation programmes in low and middle-income countries. This supports the World Health Organisations goal to eliminate cervical cancer on a global scale, driven by the knowledge that at the moment, low and middle-income countries account for up to 90% of all cases of cervical cancer.
If you want to find out more about the impact of cancer across the world, World Cancer Day will be hosting 11 hours of discussions and testimonies from experts, cancer survivors and discussing cancer and its effects. Join them Live at https://www.worldcancerday.org/live