According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020.
It is a disease, or collection of diseases, that has been at the forefront of medical research for decades, and science has a relentless pursuit of improving the quality of care and disease management for patients while seeking go to healing. We are all affected by cancer in one way or another.
This year, on World Cancer Day, I believe the time has come to re-engage in the process. Seek solutions to a disease that needs to be more manageable or even curable and improve the lives of those affected by it.
The global pharmaceutical and scientific community must pursue transformation and precision treatment technologies that fulfill these ideals.
There is also another important aspect of cancer treatment in its current form to consider. That is the care gap. Without this bridge we will have fewer victories over cancer and that is the primary goal after all.
Cancer requires a national strategy because it continues to rely on a health care system through the line interventions. In disadvantaged communities, access to diagnosis and treatment is often a major challenge and a major stumbling block in controlling the condition.
The International Cancer Control Center has embarked on a process to redress the disparities in the socioeconomic dichotomy of cancer treatment. It launched a three-year campaign to raise awareness and help implement cancer control protocols.
The middle estimates that about 80% of countries have some form of protocol, but few fully implement it. This could be due to funding issues, geographic hurdles, or simply associated with stigma. Unfortunately, vulnerable populations are usually on the receiving end of these problems.
Last year, the Center launched a tele-mentoring program that debuted with eight countries (Cameroon, Eswatini, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania), working to find solutions by identifying key stakeholders’ priorities , for nation-specific cancer control plans.
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This is especially important in a post-pandemic world where Covid-19 has swept the healthcare system and sometimes diverted attention from other longer-term disease control.
It is this kind of work that lays a socio-economic and clinical foundation for disease management. It is also the channel through which new treatments, new protocols and patient care can be rolled out. Its importance cannot be underestimated.
The role of non-profit organizations is equally important in the fight against cancer. In South Africa, there are organizations and movements such as CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa), Filotimo, the Breast Health Foundation and the Pink Drive and many others who are doing tremendous work in educating, diagnosing and supporting cancer patients and their families.
In other developing countries there is a need for organizations that do similar work. And here we must forever show our gratitude for the progress made every day in many ways.
But the victory over cancer requires much more than a national cancer protocol, research and development of treatments and regimens. More is needed than organizations that provide support. It also takes the sum of the collective and that’s where the power lies.
The pharmaceutical and scientific communities need to join forces, collaborate more often and work towards a holistic approach that delivers needs-based care, seeking every possible solution and positive outcome to achieve victory.
While there is still much to do, let’s use this World Cancer Day to celebrate the progress made so far while looking at ways to reduce the global and local impact of cancer.
At the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, our innovative solutions have paved the way in oncology for more than 30 years, and we are committed to addressing this public health crisis and transforming cancer from a deadly disease to a preventable one. and is curable.
- Written by Francisco Plaza, Managing Director of Janssen South Africa.