The 4th of February marks the International World Cancer Day and the International Childhood Cancer Day follows on the 15th of February.
Cancer is the leading cause of death globally and the top killer among the non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) which are the major focus of the WHO and UN. Over 100 000 South Africans are being diagnosed with cancer annually, and more people around the world are dying from this illness than TB, Aids and malaria combined.
Statistics also show that one in four people in South Africa is impacted by this illness, either as a cancer patient themselves or because they are close to someone who has cancer.
The World Economic Forum held in Davos from the 21-24 January had two sessions dedicated to the role of political, civic and business leaders role in turning the tide on cancer.
The 2015 global campaign for World Cancer Day 2015 is themed: ‘Not Beyond Us’.
With the focus on:
• Choosing healthy lives
• Delivering early detection
• Achieving cancer treatment for all
• Maximising quality of life
Test yourself: Am I at risk of cancer?
For South Africa this would mean:
• A National Cancer Control Plan that makes provision for vaccination for HPV and HBV against cervical and liver cancers, early detection
and screening for breast, cervical, oral and colorectal cancers;
• effective cancer surveillance;
• equitable access to essential medicines and technologies;
• and effective implementation of palliative care policies.
Thus far, South Africa has succeeded to make progress on:
• The HPV Vaccination programme for girls for between nine and twelve years since Mach 2014 although this does not form part of the national cervical cancer policy.
• HBV Vaccination as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme since 1995
• The Cancer Registration Regulation of 2011 makes provision for the compulsory registration of all cancer cases
The Cancer Alliance is working closely with the DoH and other role players to address the following priorities for effective cancer control in SA:
- The National Cancer Control Plan of 1998 is outdated and has been in process of updating since 2009.
- The cervical cancer screening policy has been in process of updating since 2009.
- For breast cancer, the highest cancer killer of South African women a breast health policy is urgently required to ensure equitable service delivery for all women.
- Despite the cancer registration regulation the completeness of the National Cancer Registry remains a challenge evident by the last available report of 2008. The National Cancer Registry falls under the jurisdiction of the NHLS that is currently experiencing huge financial and management challenges.
- Equitable access to essential medicines and technologies as well as palliative care for cancer patients across the nine provinces is not in place and often leads to patients not receiving treatment of palliation timeously leading to unnecessary suffering of unrelieved pain and symptoms.
Cancer stigma is well documented and a reality on our South African communities impacting negatively of the disease even further. People Living With Cancer a member organisation of Cancer Alliance have launched a compelling video “Unsilenced” for World Cancer Day on their website http://www.plwc.org.za.
Let’s raise our collective voices in the name of improving our general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. Visit www.canceralliance.co.za to find out more information.
Stories from people living with cancer
Great reads and links on Campaigning for Cancer
Find more support by contacting Cancer Buddies on 0800 033 337 or visit www.cancerbuddies.org.za for more information on this support group.