World Cancer Day – Close the Care Gap 2024

February 4th, 2024

Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality and estimated 10 million people die globally from cancer every year (World Cancer Day, n.d.). The cancer burden continues to grow and by 2030, it is projected that if actions are not taken cancer deaths will rise (World Cancer Day, n.d.).

Despite the remarkable advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, a huge proportion of the population do not have access to cancer care (World Cancer Day, n.d.).

Issues of inequity exist across the cancer care spectrum which are complex and far-reaching (World Cancer Day, n.d.). Some of the issues that are contributing to this inequity and deepening cancer care gap include limitations and inequitable distribution of resources, lack of cohesive national policies and strategies, and barriers to access (World Cancer Day, n.d.).

These inequities are compounded during humanitarian crises due to the destruction of hospitals, clinics, laboratories, pharmacies which are crucial for delivering oncology care (El Saghir et al., 2018).

We are currently observing unprecedented levels of displacement. Worldwide, there are an estimated 65.6 million refugees and displaced people who are compelled to flee their homes due to fear of persecution and human rights violations (El Saghir et al., 2018). Many countries around the world are facing political, social, and economic instability from war and conflict which has led to severe shortages in resources and breakdown in cancer care (El Saghir et al., 2018.

The immediate outcomes, such as fatalities and serious injuries, damage to the environment, and destruction of property, gets more attention and chronic diseases including cancer are not well targeted during crisis management and relief efforts (El Saghir et al., 2018).

Refugees and displaced individuals often experience a sense of exclusion, as their cancer treatment is interrupted (El Saghir et al., 2018). The disruption in seeking care not only increases the risk of new cases of cancer but also leads to the progression of existing cases to more advanced stages (El Saghir et al., 2018).

Considering this year’s theme ‘closing the care gap’ and the growing burden of cancer, we call on leaders on World Cancer Day 2024 to unite, innovate, and collaborate across borders, take urgent actions, and support organizations on the ground, so that people living with cancer have the opportunity to enjoy similar health outcomes as everyone else.

Author: Amina Yaqoob – PallCHASE Intern


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