Cancer is not a disease of the rich but a global health priority, say expertsPublished On: Mon, Aug 16th, 2010 | Cancer Research | By BioNews
Medical experts have called for action on cancer, saying that it is not a ”disease of the rich” but a global health priority.
“The integration of cancer prevention and care where both are needed is precisely what we need to do if we are to make the response to the challenge as global as cancer itself,” Lancet quoted Paul Farmer, chair of the HMS department of global health and social medicine, as saying.
“There are clearly effective interventions that can prevent or ease suffering due to many malignancies, and that is surely our duty as physicians or policy makers or health advocates,” he added.
Comparing cancer fatality rates between low- and high-income countries reveals stark disparities.
Fatality rates in low-income countries are 75 percent, in lower middle-income 72 percent, and in upper middle-income 64 percent.
This enormous difference in survival – particularly for many highly treatable and curable cancers such as cervical, breast, testicular and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children – denote the scope of action.
“As a person living with cancer, diagnosed in a developing country, I believe we must address this glaring inequity. Evidence shows that this can be done,” said Felicia Knaul.
“To correct this situation we must address the staggering ”5/80 cancer disequilibrium,” that is, the fact that low- and middle-income countries account for almost 80 percent of the burden of disease due to cancer yet receive only 5 percent of global resources devoted to deal with this emerging challenge,” said Julio Frenk.
Raise global awareness of the impact of cancer on developing countries, defining the packages of essential services and treatments, increasing access to the best treatment for cancer and evaluating successful service delivery models in different economic and health system settings are just some of the goals the medical community plans to work towards.
According to Larry Shulman, “Access to life-saving cancer care is a human right, and must be brought to those in developing countries.
“We have shown we can do this in the treatment of other illnesses, and we can and must do this with cancer care. This should be viewed as an imperative rather than as an option.”
The paper is published online in the Lancet.