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Prevention and Early detection, key to reducing Cancer burden – WHO

Bukola Afeni

The World Health Organisation has reteirated the need to save
thousands of lives by engaging in proper cancer prevention, early detection,  and access to proper treatment for individuals.
The health body said Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide.
While briefing journalists in a statement from the WHO Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso  Moeti, on the occasion of the World Cancer day, which was read by Dr Clement Peter, the Officer in charge for Nigeria, he emphasized the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The World Health Organization, however raised concern that if the current trends are maintained, the cancer burden in Africa is projected to double from 1,055,172 new cancer cases in 2018 to 2,123,245 cancer cases by 2040.
“The most important serious challenges facing cancer patients in most African countries are poverty, late and poor cancer diagnosis and lack of medical cover.”
According to him, the key drivers of the increasing cancer burden in Africa include increasing exposure to known cancer risk factors, such as tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diets, alcohol use and environmental pollution.
“Other additional contributing factors in the rise of the cancer burden in Africa are the epidemiologic and demographic changes that are currently taking place”
“The cancer burden is increasing as Africans are now living longer, in large part because of improvements in the control of the infectious causes of mortality and morbidity”.
In the same vein, The WHO Regional director urged all stakeholders and  African governments,  at the local, state, provincial, and national level, to create an environment in which cancer risk factors,  are reduced, and citizens maintain good level of physical activity, healthy bodyweight, and good nutrition.
” Cancer prevention and the creation of a culture of health is an essential mission of government, beyond that of the traditional health-focused departments, and health ministries”.
The health body also stated the need for individuals to seek for information on early signs and diagnosis.

“Among the factors responsible for the high cancer burden in Africa are the absence of widely available information on the early signs and symptoms of cancer, late diagnosis, misdiagnosis, absence/weak referral systems, difficult access to care and treatment, catastrophic costs of treatment and medicines, and weak health care systems.”
The Regional director also disclosed that significant progress has been achieved in diagnostics and treatment of cancers in high-income countries.
“It has resulted in better prognosis and enhanced survival rates for cancers in high-income countries with 5-year survival as high as 80-90% for cancers that can be treated when detected early.”
He also bemoaned the fact that cancer patients in Africa are diagnosed at a late stage and the prognosis for a positive outcome is lessened, even in cases where treatment is available and affordable.
“Cancer diagnosis should not represent a death sentence in Africa, nor should it lead to catastrophic expenditure following out-of-pocket payments for diagnostic, treatment and palliative care.”
“Let us all individually and collectively resolve to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer as part of the commitment for Universal Health Coverage and the larger push to leave no one behind.”
The theme of this year World Cancer day “I am and I will”  is chosen as a reminder of the important actions that we need to take as individuals, groups, communities and political leaders, to reduce the impact of cancer .

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