Health News of Saturday, 2 February 2013
Many countries worldwide are still struggling to prevent cancer and provide treatment and care to chronic cancer patients, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) survey for World Cancer Day has said.
It said many of these countries do not have a functional cancer control plan that includes prevention, early detection, treatment and care.
The WHO survey which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Saturday said there is an urgent need to help countries to reduce cancer deaths and provide appropriate long-term treatment and care to avoid human suffering.
It said cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and whiles 7.6 million people died from the disease worldwide in 2008 every year almost 13 million cancer new cases are diagnosed.
It said already more than two-thirds of these new cancer cases and deaths occur in developing countries where cancer incidence continues to increase at alarming rates.
The research suggests that currently a third of all cancer deaths are due to modifiable risks including tobacco use, obesity, harmful use of alcohol and other infections.
It said if detected early many types of cancer such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer can be successfully cured.
The recent survey on national capacity for non communicable diseases, which included responses from 185 countries, revealed major gaps in cancer control planning and services.
It said even if countries developed cancer plans or policies, many countries struggling would move from commitment to action.
The research said often these plans are not integrated into wider national health and development planning and besides, many countries the lack institutional capacity, as well as decisive leadership to ensure adequate national funding for cancer control.
It said only 17% of the African countries and 27% of the low-income countries have cancer control plans with a budget to support implementation; furthermore, less than 50% of countries have population-based cancer registries.
It said these registries are critical to capture high-quality information on the numbers and types of cancer cases so that effective national policies for cancer control can be developed, implemented and evaluated.
Recently, political commitments from world leaders to address cancer have gained steam, including discussions at the national level of funding cancer treatment and care by raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol, which are known risk factors for some cancers.
To support Member States’ capacity to measure their cancer burden and collect reliable data, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer introduced the Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries that is backed by many international, regional and national partners.
The first regional hub was launched in Mumbai, India, in 2012 and the second in Izmir, Turkey, will become operational in 2013.
In addition, the African Network of Cancer Registries expanded significantly over the last year providing much needed support to registries across the continent.
Cancer registries will help countries to measure one of the indicators set by the agreed WHO global monitoring framework for the prevention and control of non communicable diseases.
The framework which will be up for adoption by Member States during the World Health Assembly in May, comprises nine global targets and 25 indicators to prevent and control major non communicable diseases, including cancer.
It encourages Member States to measure cancer incidence and the availability of life-saving interventions such as cervical cancer screening, vaccination against hepatitis B and human papilloma virus (HPV) as well as palliative care for cancer patients.
In addition, the framework also promotes the monitoring of some major cancer risk factors such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diet.
World Cancer Day (4 February) is an annual event initiated by the Union for International Cancer Control that calls on people, organizations and government agencies around the world to unite in the fight against the global cancer epidemic.
This year, the campaign focuses on improving general knowledge around cancer and dispelling misconceptions about the disease.