There’s a joke about India having the second-biggest population in the world with around a billion people but cannot produce 11 football players; that is of course on a lighter note. The annual World Cancer Day is an event that calls for a participation of millions of people all over the world; why you would not be a part of these people is what I wouldn’t understand; leave alone the case of the Indian national football team. But perhaps you are wondering what this event is all about leave alone be a part of it. Well, let me break it down for you and from there you will see a great need in joining hands with the whole world to celebrate this day.
It has been estimated that cancer will kill more than eight million people worldwide this year, half of whom fall in the working bracket (30-69 years old). That is equivalent to wiping away the entire population Nairobi and at least two other counties in Kenya. Now that is alarming and heartbreaking on so many levels. The world economic effect of cancer and other non-communicable diseases for instance is estimated to hit as USD47 trillion if no action is taken to reduce the anticipated growth in cases over the next two decades. The social implications that would be affected by this new emergence could be disastrous. In a nut shell, cancer has become a menace-a big menace that is almost getting out of hand if it already hasn’t. How much we are doing to counter its attack is the question that remains because it is already here with us…in full force.
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), a leading international cancer NGO, has presented each one of us at our own very personal level an opportunity to curb the epidemic that knows no border, race or social status. Under the campaign, ‘WeCanICan’, the World Cancer Day represents a unique opportunity to draw attention to what can be done to address cancer, save millions of avoidable deaths and, in turn, support global economic growth and development. The organisation urges the government also to urgently reaffirm their commitment to the following cost-effective cancer ‘essentials package’ that saves lives:
- Implementation of vaccination programmes which prevent infections that cause cervical and liver cancer
- Scale up of access to early detection and screening programmes for cervical, breast and bowel cancers and follow-on treatment*
- Improved tobacco taxation, regulation and control
- As well, as pain relief and palliative care services for all cancer patients.
World Cancer Day aims to mobilize each and every individual to throw in some little effort in order to fight cancer. It is in that little effort where the biggest victories are recorded. UICC Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Cary Adams says this battle can be realized with the right strategies in place, “Preventing millions of unnecessary deaths and suffering from cancer is not outside of the world’s scientific or financial capabilities,” He adds that to achieve this noble cause, it requires collaborative action at both individual and collective levels – spearheaded by key leaders in society. “Governments have made global commitments to prioritize actions for addressing cancer; we now need to see these converted to national investments in treatment centres, services and skilled health workers, as well as health promotion. Employers can play a crucial role also by investing in the well-being of their workplace and the wider environment which they impact.” He concludes.
With more than a third of all cancers (up to 4.5 million per year) preventable through lifestyle interventions, UICC also calls on individuals to take responsibility for reducing their own cancer risk.Simple measures such as stopping smoking, eating less red and processed meat, exercising regularly and reducing alcohol use can extend a healthy life, and must be seen as the first-line of defence against cancer and other associated non-communicable diseases. Now on a more personal level, what are you doing to ensure you are not part of these unfortunate statistics? UICC President emphasizes on this, “World Cancer Day 2016 is a chance to reflect on what everyone can do to reduce the impact of this devastating disease, now, and for the future. We wish it to be a spring board for positive change. Take action for yourself, your organisation or your community/country, as everyone can make a difference and inspire others. ‘We can. I can.’ beat cancer,”
When it comes to such issues, it does not matter how much money or resources you contribute, what does matter is your will coming from deep down your heart and the desire to see a better world. Small gestures can go a long way in bringing about this change that we all long for. On this World Cancer Day (4th Feb 2016), take action on cancer by making health and well-being commitments, participating in the official ‘Talking Hands’ social media activity and getting involved in hundreds of other awareness raising initiatives that are happening worldwide; don’t be left behind, be part of something great in whom everyone and even the future generation would be proud and grateful for.
Visit www.worldcancerday.org for more information on how the day is being marked around the globe.