Author - Dr. Arun Karanwal
Worldwide, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, and its burden is on the rise. It is expected that the incidence of cancer will continue to increase in the next few decades which will tremendously increase the burden of cancer care on healthcare systems. A global estimate estimates 20 million new cancer cases and 10 million cancer deaths. Over the next two decades, the cancer burden is expected to increase by about 60%, placing an even greater strain on health systems, people, and communities. New cancer cases are predicted to increase by 2040 to about 30 million, with the greatest increase occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
World cancer day – 4th February is celebrated each year as world cancer day with a goal to raise awareness, improve education and coordinate various cancer care health initiatives for improving cancer outcomes.
The new theme for World Cancer Day for 2022 through 2024 is “Close the Care Gap.”
Inequalities in cancer care worldwide
Care for cancer reflects the inequalities and inequities of our world. This theme is based on the unfair reality that, today, who you are and where you live can define if you'll survive or die from cancer. Income, education, geographical location, and discrimination based on ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, and lifestyle are just a few of the factors that can negatively affect care.
This gap affects different parts and subgroups of society, for example, cancer death rates are 1.5- 2 times more in low-income or less-developed countries in comparison to developed nations. Both elderly (more than 65 yrs of age) and childhood patients of cancer have less availability of treatment and less expected cure chances. The transgender population is generally neglected for screening or early diagnostic tests. Rural vs urban populations also have significant differences in various aspects of cancer care.
These global disparities in access to cancer prevention, treatment, and palliative care are growing exponentially. Covid 19 pandemic has further worsened these disparities due to the effect on access to screening, diagnostic, and treatment services, growing poverty, and difficulties in international support services.
Closing the care gap- this is a priority in cancer care now.
Every person will reach their full health potential when there are no barriers or limitations imposed by their social position or other socially or economically determinable factors.
Together as a cancer community, we can work toward health equity through education about cancer prevention, developing a healthcare workforce with skills and knowledge about how inequity impacts cancer care and implementing strategies that work in local communities.
Collectively, we can reduce inequity by:
Cancer care in UAE
In UAE, the healthcare system is well developed and is improving further at a rapid pace. Both public and private healthcare centers are working towards the goal of improving health services. Cancer care is now on the priority list of these centers. At present, all type of cancer services is easily available in UAE, including screening, diagnostic, treatment options, and palliative care support.
Improvements in the following areas can reduce the cancer care gap further-
Create a future without cancer. The time to act is now.