Kolkata, Feb 4: World Cancer Day, organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and celebrated each year on February 4 is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.
To mark this day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the state government has made treatment of all types of cancer completely free in state-run hospitals, including free medicine, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and free beds. “Today is #WorldCancerDay. From 2015, our Govt in #Bangla has made treatment of all types of cancer completely free in state-run hospitals, including free medicine, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and free beds,” Ms Banerjee tweeted.
“Let us encourage more research for the early detection and cure of cancer,” she added. The World Health Organization (WHO) today spells out the need to step up cancer services in low and middle-income countries. WHO warns that, if current trends continue, the world will see a 60 per cent increase in cancer cases over the next two decades. The greatest increase (an estimated 81 per cent) in new cases will occur in low- and middle-income countries, where survival rates are currently lowest.
This is largely because these countries have had to focus limited health resources on combating infectious diseases and improving maternal and child health, while health services are not equipped to prevent, diagnose and treat cancers. In 2019, more than 90 per cent of high-income countries reported that comprehensive treatment services for cancer were available in the public health system compared to less than 15 per cent of low-income countries. “This is a wake-up call to all of us to tackle the unacceptable inequalities between cancer services in rich and poor countries,” says Dr Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage/ Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases, World Health Organization.
“If people have access to primary care and referral systems then cancer can be detected early, treated effectively and cured. Cancer should not be a death sentence for anyone, anywhere.” Yet, progress in poorer countries is achievable. WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) are releasing two coordinated reports on World Cancer Day February 4), in response to government calls for more research into the scope and potential policies and programmes to improve cancer control.
“At least 7 million lives could be saved over the next decade, by identifying the most appropriate science for each country situation, by basing strong cancer responses on universal health coverage, and by mobilizing different stakeholders to work together”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO. (UNI)