World Cancer Day Provides Opportunity To Challenge Assumptions That Prevent Effective Action
“For the poor, cancer remains a silent killer. Breaking this silence could save hundreds of thousands and likely even millions of lives each year — most of them in developing, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs),” Felicia Knaul, secretariat co-director of the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries, writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog. She notes the theme of year’s World Cancer Day, recognized on February 4, was Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: “dispelling the myths and misconceptions that shroud the topic of cancer and prevent effective action.”
“The four overarching myths that have shrouded and undermined global efforts to address the cancer divide are lodged in the reductionist claim that addressing cancer in developing countries is (1) unnecessary, (2) unaffordable, (3) unattainable, and (4) inappropriate because it would divert resources from other, supposedly competing, health priorities,” Knaul continues, and expands on each point. “These falsehoods have plagued efforts to develop an effective prevention and treatment approach and strengthen health systems in LMICs not only to meet the challenge of cancer, but also for non-communicable and chronic diseases more generally,” she writes. “World Cancer Day is an opportunity to act on an urgent moral imperative, to challenge the assumption that cancers must remain untreated in poor countries, just as was successfully done for HIV treatment more than a decade ago,” she concludes (2/4).