Every year on February 4th, the lens of the world converges on cancer. It is a day set aside to raise awareness about cancer, its prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. The theme for year 2019 is ‘I am and I will”. It is sad to note that despite all efforts, cancer deaths did not abate in the past year.
Cancer is a critical health and human issue that requires concerted efforts to tackle. Cancers are a group of debilitating diseases that are best prevented. The experience of cancer in itself is best imagined.
The theme for this year, “I am, I will”, was picked to depict the power in individual commitment. Indeed, the year 2019 marks the beginning of a three-year campaign. The theme is chosen by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).
The World Cancer Day is an awareness campaign meant to galvanise actions beyond the day itself. The rationale behind using the theme for this year is to help reinforce the message that individual actions taken now have the potential to impact the future.
Furthermore, taking the theme for 3 years stretch just helps to create sustained impact of the message.
It is worthy of note, that February 4th is dedicated to creating awareness for cancers generally. Nonetheless, there are other activities to mark awareness campaigns for specific cancers. For example, October every year is called breast cancer awareness month.
In marking the events, communities around the world engage in walks, talks, public campaigns, shows etc to educate the people on cancer prevention through lifestyle modification, early detection and treatment of cancers. Governments and partners are also encouraged to make cancers a priority.
Despite the awareness and increasing attention on cancers from all quarters, there is the need to do more and the grim statistics show this.
For instance, somewhere across the globe, one person dies every every 8 minutes from cancer. In all, 9.6 million people die yearly from cancers and majority of these deaths are from low and middle income countries.
Unfortunately, inequity in access to care aggravates deaths from cancers, according to WHO, thus making survival from cancers a herculean tasks. Even in developed, cancers disproportionately affect certain population groups more than others.
In addition, young people are becoming increasingly at risks of cancers so also as developing countries are now having increasing burden from the disease.
Considering the fact that developing countries are limited in their resources to combat diseases, cancers therefore become a big strain on their economies. It is noteworthy that these economies are already stretched and struggling to cope with giving the citizenry a decent life.
The good news, however, is that studies have shown that more than a third of cancers are preventable, and another third is curable, if detected early and appropriately treated.
Despite this , current yearly deaths from cancers surpass those of HIV/AIDS and malaria put together.
Sadly, experts project that these deaths will rise to 13 million by 2030, if the world fails to act.
Therefore, the three year theme of ” I am and I will” is a wake up call that all hands must be on deck to get cancers on the priority list of all stakeholders in order to save the world.