Equalizing the Fight Against Cancer
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for stronger health systems and universal health coverage in order to prevent further avoidable deaths. Taking the same approach to controlling cancer can help to ensure that five million people a year do not die prematurely.
MUMBAI – Informing someone that they have cancer is indescribably difficult. It is all the more heart-wrenching when we know that their disease possibly could have been detected and treated earlier, thus increasing their survival chances, or even prevented entirely.
Ten million people died prematurely from cancer in 2020. Half of these deaths could have been prevented by greater awareness of risk factors and early warning signs, earlier consultations, and easier and more timely access to health services and high-performance testing equipment. Moving swiftly toward universal health coverage (UHC) can help to achieve this goal.
There are several reasons why we currently are not all equal before cancer. These “social determinants of health” – such as where we are born and grow up, where we currently live and work, and our income level – influence our perceptions and understanding of cancer and the risks that contribute to its development.