Holding the 2023 WORLD CANCER DAY

by News Echo
4 minutes read

The international community commemorate World Cancer Day every February 4, of every year. For this year 2023, it was held on Saturday. February 5, 2023 with theme “Close the care Gap: Uniting our voices and taking action.” This year’s campaign summoned like-minded people to be united in order to build, stronger alliances and new innovative collaborations in the fight against cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) was established in 1993. Based in Geneva, it is a membership-based society working towards the eradication of cancer around the world and advancing medical research. Under its direction, the first International Cancer Day was celebrated in Geneva, Switzerland in the same year. Several well-known organizations, cancer societies, and treatment centers also supported this initiative.

World Cancer Day was made official at the first World Summit Against Cancer in 2000. The event took place in Paris and was attended by members of cancer organizations and prominent government leaders from around the world. A document titled the ‘Charter of Paris Against Cancer,’ featuring 10 articles, was signed, outlining a global commitment to improving the facilitation and quality of life of cancer patients. Advancement and increased investment in researching, preventing, and treating cancer was also highlighted. Article X of this charter officially declared World Cancer Day to be observed on February 4.

Cancer has numerous types, so there are various colors and symbols used to mark a specific type of cancer and promote the fight against it. For example, the orange ribbon is for creating awareness of cancer in children, while the pink ribbon is globally associated with breast cancer awareness. As a symbol of hope for patients and survivors, the daffodil flower is used by the American Cancer Society for a future where this life-threatening disease no longer exists.

On this day, hundreds of events and fundraisers take place around the world each year, to bring individuals, communities, and organizations together in hospitals, schools, businesses, markets, community halls, parks, etc. to campaign and deliver the powerful reminder that those hit by cancer are not alone, and we all share a responsibility in reducing the global impact of this disease.
According to a the message from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, approximately 1.1 million new cancer cases occur each year in Africa, with about 700,000 deaths.
His message reads in parts, “The numbers are stark. Approximately 1.1 million new cancer cases occur each year in Africa, with about 700,000 deaths. Data estimates show a considerable increase in cancer mortality to nearly one million deaths per year by 2030, without urgent and bold interventions.

“We should recall that the most common cancers in adults include breast (16.5%), cervical (13.1%), prostate (9.4%), Colorectal (6%), and liver (4.6%) cancers, contributing to nearly half of the new cancer cases. With significant data challenges, childhood cancer incidence in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated at 56.3 per million population. Current projections show that Africa will account for nearly 50% of the global childhood cancer burden by 2050, compelling expeditious efforts to confront this concern, as was done for the young girl from Rwanda.
“In that view, it is important to celebrate some achievements we have made as a region, at the country level. Twelve countries in the region have valid National Cancer Control Plans. WHO is supporting eleven additional countries in developing or updating their National Cancer Control Plans aligned to the global cancer initiatives coupled with the presence of governance structures at the government level to implement Cancer Plans.
“Currently, 16 countries have introduced high-performance-based screening tests in line with WHO recommendations and plan to scale up cervical cancer screening. The introduction of gynecologic oncology Fellowships for improved access to cervical cancer treatment services in Malawi and Zambia is commendable and innovative.
“Despite these achievements, stumbling blocks remain on our path. These include the low availability of Population Based Cancer Registries; limited health promotion; inadequate access to primary prevention and early detection services; the scarcity of diagnostic facilities that increase delays in diagnosis and treatment.
“Provision of palliative care is rare in Africa, notwithstanding the significant need for it. Africa has only 3% of the world’s cancer treatment facilities, with radiotherapy available in just 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to very low survival rates.
“By uniting voices and action, we can address cancer at individual and community levels: Choosing healthy lifestyles, getting vaccinated, and getting routinely screened against preventable cancers. Parents have the responsibility to ensure their eligible daughters receive HPV vaccines.

We therefore call on governments of countries in the African continent to develop and update national cancer control plans, provide sustainable financing for cancer prevention, cure and care.
It is also critical to ensure adequate infrastructure for human resource, screening, diagnostics, and treatment. There is equally a need to expand the use of digital health and establish relevant trainings for the cancer workforce.

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