Every year, more than 10 million people die of cancer. That’s about 27,000 deaths each day or a shocking 18 deaths per minute! Truly, no disease has been as devastating since these numbers are much greater than those of lives claimed by HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria combined. Yet the spirited fight against this killer disease has yielded much more fruit over the years. In fact, according to the CDC, the cancer death rates went down by a whooping 27% between 1999 and 2019. This, thanks to the efforts made by partners and individuals across the globe, who have continued to join hands every year to boost initiatives aimed at kicking out cancer from the globe. One such remarkable initiative is the World Cancer Day Commemoration.
Let’s break it all down in a short story.
It was a Friday. The first one of February, 22 years ago just like it will be in 2022. On this special day in the most populous city in France and its capital; Paris, leaders of government agencies and cancer organizations from around the world sat in a meeting whose minutes set the precedence for events and thoughts that would be etched in people’s minds and hearts each year. A document widely known as the Charter of Paris against cancer was signed. It contained ten articles that focused on, among other aspects; prevention of cancer, improvement of patient services and promotion of research. Article X will be the focus of our spotlight in this piece. It formally declared the 4th of February as World Cancer Day.
Created to be held yearly, the World Cancer Day is more than just a day in the calendar. It is an observance that seeks to primarily raise awareness on cancer. Moreover, the global initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and partners such as the World Health Organization(WHO) endeavours to encourage prevention, detection and treatment in a bid to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer.
On this day the cancer community makes its voice heard globally through all-day live streams and promotions on social media platforms, discussions with experts and people living with cancer in webinars and talk shows, engagement in sporting activities to raise awareness by some of the biggest names in the field and much more. Closer home, individuals and groups that are passionate about the fight against cancer equally organize fund drives and events to promote awareness and provision of care to cancer patients and their communities. One such is the Warrior Glow Initiative that comprises medical students who offer their skills pro bono to help dispel stigma from cancer patients by doing nail grooming as well as teaching them on how to tie turbans as well as providing hats for men with treatment-induced hair loss. Equally, The Cancer Friends of Hope initiative holds concerts whose proceeds go towards providing medical care and food to needy cancer patients in the slums.
The theme for this year and the next two is ‘Close the Care Gap’. This impact-oriented multiyear campaign is all about recognition of the inequities experienced in cancer care globally. For this year, the aim is to identify the problems faced by care seekers as well as the factors that act as barriers to access. These include but are not limited to income, geographical location and discrimination. The prime focus is on discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity and disability. It is a call to action therefore that every stakeholder in their own way, seeks to understand the perspectives of the people living with cancer and to find innovative ways that will not only be solutions to these setbacks but also means to a fairer vision; A vision of a future where communities have equitable access to cancer care in spite of their background.
Ponea Health is indeed a healthcare companion to cancer patients. We have developed a Chronic Disease Management program that focuses on patients such as these to ensure that the gap between them and quality healthcare is bridged. This has been achieved by putting under one roof, a pool of qualified doctors and nurses who are dedicated to the delivery of care to patients at the comfort of their homes, in facilities and even online through teleconsultations. On top of that, there are drug delivery services. The aim is to treat each patient as a VIP and in fact, every cancer patient gets a dedicated concierge agent whom they have access to at all times for any queries. Going forward, we look to launch a patient app that will be available for all these patients to enable them to have access to among other things; their medical information, ability to book appointments and a synchronized calendar of all their upcoming appointments.
Together, we shall win this fight because, as is wisely said, none of us is stronger than all of us.