More than Half of Countries Unprepared for Cancer, WHO Warns

According to a recent WHO survey for World Cancer Day, the wellness of more than half of all countries worldwide is at risk, as they are struggling to prevent cancer and provide treatment and chronic care to cancer patients. In other words, these countries do not have a functional cancer control plan that revolves around the big four: prevention, early detection, treatment and care.

Cancer affects your wellbeing more than any other disease, as it is the leading cause of death across the globe. In 2008, 7.6 million people died from cancer worldwide, and almost 13 million cancer cases are newly diagnosed every year. As it stands, at least than two-thirds of these new cancer cases and deaths occur in developing countries where cancer incidence continues to increase at alarming rates. Therefore, we urgently need to help countries reduce their cancer deaths and provide appropriate long-term treatment and care. Not only will this serve to lessen human suffering, but it will also help to protect countries’ social and economic development.

Cancer deaths could be reduced by at least a third, as many are caused by controllable risks such as tobacco use, obesity, harmful use of alcohol and infections. Plus, early detection of many types of cancer can lead to successful cures. According to Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, ‘Cancer should not be a death sentence anywhere in the world as there are proven ways to prevent and cure many cancers. In order to reduce exposure to risk factors leading to cancer and ensure that every person living with cancer gets access to appropriate care and treatment, comprehensive cancer control programmes need to be set up in every country.’

WHO’s recent survey included responses from 185 countries, and made one major distinction; even if countries had developed cancer plans or policies, many countries are still struggling to move from commitment to action. Countries are failing to integrate their plans into wider national health and development planning, or lack the institutional capacity and decisive leadership to ensure adequate national funding for it. Of the low-income countries surveyed, only 27% reported having cancer control plans with a budget to support implementation.

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