World Cancer Day: WHO calls for intensified action for prevention, early detection of cancer

New Delhi [India], February 4 (ANI): World Health Organisation has called for intensified action across the South-East Asia Region to strengthen health systems to prevent and detect cancers early, to provide prompt treatment referrals, to enhance access to palliative care, and to close the gap in access to quality cancer services, on the occasion of World Cancer Day on February 4.

"Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.9 million deaths in 2020. Between 2010 and 2019, global cancer incidence increased by 26%, alongside a 21% increase in cancer deaths. An estimated one-third of cancer deaths globally are due to tobacco use, high body mass index, alcohol use, low fruit and vegetable intake, and lack of physical activity," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the Regional Director of WHO for South-East Asia.

"In the WHO South-East Asia Region, an estimated 2.3 million people developed cancer in 2020, and 1.4 million died of the disease. Cancer is estimated to account for more than 20% of premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Region, which stands at around 4.7 million deaths every year. In 2020, cancer of the lungs, breast and cervix accounted for 400000 of the total number of cancer-related deaths in the Region, and almost two-thirds of people diagnosed with cancer succumbed to the disease," she said, highlighting the urgent need for improved early diagnosis and treatment.

Since 2014, the region has accelerated action to prevent, detect, treat and control cancer, with an increased focus on eliminating cervical cancer as a public health problem. Eight countries of the Region now have in place population-based cancer registries (PCBRs), and three countries Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka are focus countries for addressing childhood cancer. According to the statement, ten of the Region’s 11 Member States provide tertiary care services for cancer diagnosis and treatment including surgical and chemotherapy services and nine also offer radiotherapy services.

The statement also said that WHO continues to support countries of the Region to implement its new Regional Action Plan on Oral Health 2022-2030, including oral cancers, which in 2020 were among the top five most common cancers, accounting for 7.4% of new cancers. Five countries of the Region — Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand — now have national cancer control plans, which Maldives and Nepal are finalizing. The Region is currently on track to achieve the WHO NCD Global Action Plan target of a 30% relative reduction in tobacco use prevalence between 2010 and 2025.

"On cervical cancer, the region is achieving rapid, life-saving progress. Five Member States — Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand — have introduced nationwide HPV vaccination, which Bangladesh, India and Timor-Leste are set to also introduce. Indonesia has introduced HPV vaccination in several provinces, covering tens of millions of girls. New evidence shows that a single dose of HPV vaccine delivers protection comparable to the 2-dose schedule, which alongside additional cost reductions, should enable countries to reach every woman and girl," the statement added. (ANI)