World Cancer Day 2022 – Close the care gap
The first “World Summit Against Cancer” which was convened in Paris in 2000 established the World Cancer Day. It is an international day commemorated annually on February 4 to promote awareness of cancer and to support its prevention, detection, and treatment. The theme for the World Cancer Day 2022 is “closing the care gap” and it aims to address inequities throughout the length and breadth on which cancer thrives. Money, education, race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, and lifestyle are all elements that contribute to inequity. While it is evident that these gaps contribute to care delivery inefficiency, it is also crucial to stress that actions must be taken to address these social inequalities and encourage a focused, care-centred approach.
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Nigeria’s population of 200 million people sees an estimated 72,000 cancer deaths each year, with 102,000 new cases diagnosed. Cancer is a generic term for a set of diseases that affect several regions of the body, including but not limited to the breast, lung, colon, rectum, prostate, skin, and stomach. When abnormal cells develop out of control, cross their normal limits, invade neighbouring tissues, and/or spread to other organs, cancer can start in virtually any organ or tissue in the body.
With the rise in cancer cases, it is more important than ever to raise its awareness, educate, enlighten, and sensitise the general public. Sensitisation workshops can be arranged to explain the causes of cancer and to emphasise the importance of early screening tests in cancer diagnosis and treatment. As well as explaining the method of several self-examinations that can be performed without the need for medical assistance. When cancer is detected early, it has a better chance of responding to treatment, which means a higher chance of survival and less morbidity.
It is also essential that everyone works together. Cancer must be viewed as a common enemy, and its eradication must be supported jointly. The government must collaborate with key healthcare stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and international organisations. Policies must be enacted to ensure that all people, regardless of social class, receive care. Patients may not always have the financial means to pay for treatments, but good health should be a right for everyone, therefore the government should assist in making subsidised drugs and treatment facilities available. This will strengthen the care process and provide a more practical strategy to eradicate cancer.
Discrimination against cancer patients must also be avoided. They should not be stigmatised as a result of their health status. Instead, they should be praised and assisted in their fight for survival. Medical professionals must also provide professional treatment to patients while taking into account the uniqueness and culture of each individual. Patients must be confident that they will receive a high-quality treatment, and their trust should be bolstered by the professional services they receive. By facilitating efficient communication between medical practitioners and patients, the quality of care delivered will improve.
Healthcare practitioners can use virtual means to deliver care to patients due to national travel restrictions and other guidelines in place to keep COVID-19 at bay. Flexibility should be considered, however, because a patient’s socioeconomic status can affect their access to internet facilities as well as their acceptance of the procedure. The spread of COVID-19 has harmed the efficiency with which cancer patients were cared for and it is vital to reiterate support for cancer patients even in this period. Oncologists, other medical professionals, and other people must emphasise their efforts in giving cancer patients care.
Individuals must also contribute to effectively bridge these gaps. As previously noted, the importance of early screening cannot be over-emphasised. Regular tests must be accepted as long as they have been validated to ensure that malignant cells are detected and can be treated early enough. Patients must also be open and honest with their physicians. Cancer care, like health care, is a two-way street.
It is vital to address these inequities, which result in gaps in cancer treatment delivery. Cancer persists as a result of these gaps, but when our hands are joined, we can put an end to it.
Article by Oluwaseyi Muyiwa Egbewande is a Doctor of Pharmacy student at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.