During the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millenium in the year 2000, 4th February was established as World Cancer Day. The day was initiated as part of the Paris Charter to continue to raise awareness, promote research, push for better services, provide access to accurate information and serve as a reminder to people around the world to join forces in the fight against cancer.
This year, the new 3-year theme ‘I Am and I Will’ commences. The theme serves as a reminder that even as individuals, we hold the power to act and bring about change. The objective of a 3-year campaign is to have an impact that will bring about enduring and meaningful developments that will continue to inspire individuals and communities to commit to action and foster change.
Cancer is a devastating illness that affects the patients, their caregivers, communities and the society as a whole. The following are some key areas where action and awareness are required, as detailed by the Union for International Cancer Control as part of World Cancer Day:
If you want to make change, the first step to doing that is to educating yourself and those closest to you.The largest hindrance to progress is the lack of accurate information. Raise your voice about making information accessible, speak up and support organisations that are working hard to provide solid factual resources, volunteer to adjust information to make it friendly for different cultures, step out of your comfort zone and go up to people or communities that are furthest from the current access.
Prevention should always be the goal. Start making healthier lifestyle choices which includes eating wholesome foods, incorporating a regular exercise routine, quitting smoking, avoiding drugs and reducing your alcohol intake. In addition, regular screening and vaccinations should be a part of your health routine. As an employer, implementing healthier food options, increasing access to exercising and creating a safe and open space for discussions are some of the ways to be part of the campaign.
Equality in healthcare is a major issue. Unfortunately, issues such as where you live, your economic status, your gender, and your race still play a role in your access to diagnostics, treatment and financial help to deal with the former. For us at Qunomedical, bringing access to medical treatment is one of our core values and close to the heart of every employee. We believe that in order to tackle this, we have to unite together and speak up for those who cannot or will not be heard. Developing programmes to equip medical and healthcare professionals in countries with a low socioeconomic status with more skills is another step. Additionally, governments and world health bodies should work together to build country specific plans for the needed resources and improve public health care systems.
Cancer has an immense impact on the economy of a country. Billions of dollars are spent in treatment costs and in losing workers to time off and premature deaths. Building cancer-focused policies such as paid leave and funding research that are cost effective will go a long way in improving survival rates, quality of life as well as improving productivity in the workforce. Banks and insurance companies should improve their responsiveness to cancer patients, and have specific policies to deal with cancer. Lastly, efforts to tackle risk factors such as obesity, tobacco use and availability and coverage of palliative care are important aspects to take into account when developing an effective cancer policy.
Training traditional and non-traditional healthcare providers and providing them with the most urgently required skills such as recognizing early signs and symptoms, appropriate administration of cancer treatments and delivering palliative care.
As has been said before, taking care of not only the physical health of the patients but their mental, emotional and sexual well-being is also of the utmost importance. Patients and their caregivers should feel empowered and supported to participate in discussions and decisions about their treatment plans, and their needs should always be taken into account as long as it’s in their best interest.
There is a lot you can do, as a person or a company or as a nation. It can be one thing, it can be five and they can be on a small scale or have worldwide impact. The important thing is for you to stand up, raise your hand and say ‘I Am and I Will’.
If you are looking for help, or to provide help here is a list of members of the UICC in the UK:
And here is a list of members of the UICC in Germany: