February 4 is World Cancer Day. It is a day set aside every year to reflect on what we can do, make a pledge and take action against cancer. For the past 3 years (2016 – 2018), World Cancer Day has being taking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’ This is to explore how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.
Everyone has the power to take various actions to reduce the impact of cancer on individuals, families and communities, just as cancer affects everyone in different ways. In whatever we choose to do, ‘We can. I can.’ make a difference to the fight against cancer.
World Cancer Day raises awareness of the millions of people world-wide facing unequal access to cancer detection, treatment, and care services. With cancer leaders, health professionals and supporters across the world pushing for urgent action to reduce the rate of premature cancer deaths globally, the day calls for diagnostic and treatment access to be prioritised.
Cancer leaders have call for equal access to reduce premature cancer deaths by 25%.
According to them, the global target of a 25% reduction in premature deaths from cancer and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2025 is possible. However, to deliver on this global commitment, the current inequities in risk factor exposure, and in access to screening, early detection and timely and appropriate treatment and care, must be addressed.
Today, there are an estimated 8.8 million deaths from cancer every year. However, it is the low- to middle-income countries who are bearing the brunt, as approximately 70% of deaths occur in developing countries, which are the most ill-equipped to cope with the cancer burden. The starkest area of inequity relates to childhood cancers – a specific group that the WHO underscored in its landmark 2017 Cancer Resolution – with survival rates over 80% in high income countries and as low as 20% in low income countries.
According to the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), millions of people suffering from cancer in developing countries still lack access to effective prevention, screening, early diagnosis and treatment; urging continued efforts to ensure greater access to these vital services.
Many cancers (between 30 to 50 per cent), according to World Health Organisation, can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. Some of these risk factors include tobacco use including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco; being overweight or obese; unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake; lack of physical activity alcohol use; sexually transmitted Human papillomavirus (HPV)-infection; infection by hepatitis or other carcinogenic infections; ionizing and ultraviolet radiation; urban air pollution; and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels. The cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection of cancer and management of patients who develop cancer.
As we commemorate this year’s World Cancer Day,
Inspire action, take action
Create healthy schools
Create healthy workplaces
Create healthy cities
Support others to return to work
Improve access to cancer care
Shape policy change
Build a quality workforce
Make the case for investing in cancer control
Join forces to make a difference
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Understand that early detection saves lives
Ask for support
Return to work
Take control of my cancer journey
Love, and be loved
Make my voice heard
Courtesy: Institute Of Nursing Research, Nigeria. (INR)
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