February 4th is World Cancer Day which is an annual event initiated by the Union for International Cancer Control that calls on people, organizations and government agencies around the world to unite in the fight against the global cancer epidemic.
This year, the campaign focuses on improving general knowledge around cancer and dispelling misconceptions about the disease. To improve useful information sharing on the same day World Health Organisation has shared a survey which provides insight to the challenges being faced worldwide due to cancer.
The survey observed that “more than half of all countries worldwide are struggling to prevent cancer and provide treatment and chronic care to cancer patients -----. This means, currently many of these countries do not have a functional cancer control plan that includes prevention, early detection, treatment and care.” It observed that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. 7.6 million people died from cancer worldwide in 2008 and every year almost 13 million cancer cases are newly diagnosed.
“Cancer should not be a death sentence anywhere in the world as there are proven ways to prevent and cure many cancers,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health. “In order to reduce exposure to risk factors leading to cancer and ensure that every person living with cancer gets access to appropriate care and treatment, comprehensive cancer control programmes need to be set up in every country.”
WHO survey identifies gaps
The recent survey on national capacity for non-communicable diseases (NCD), which include responses from 185 countries, revealed major gaps in cancer control planning and services. Even if countries develop cancer plans or policies, many countries are struggling to move from commitment to action. Often these plans are not integrated into wider national health and development planning. In addition, many countries lack institutional capacity, as well as decisive leadership to ensure adequate national funding for cancer control. Only 17% of the African countries and 27% of the low-income countries have cancer control plans with a budget to support implementation.
NCD Global Monitoring Framework
To support countries towards effective monitoring of Non Communicable Disease including cancers, just few days after the World Cancer Day, on February 8th 2013, WHO developed and shared a global monitoring framework to enable global tracking of progress in preventing and controlling major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes - and their key risk factors. The framework comprises nine global targets and 25 indicators and will be up for adoption by Member States during the World Health Assembly in May 2013.
The framework targets and indicators
Once adopted, Member States are encouraged to consider the development of national NCD targets and indicators building on the global framework.
The nine voluntary global targets are aimed at combating global mortality from the four main NCDs, accelerating action against the leading risk factors for NCDs and strengthening national health system responses. The mortality target - a 25% reduction in premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2025 - has already been adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2012.
What are the framework goals
The framework is expected to drive progress in prevention and control of NCDs and provide the foundation for advocacy, raising awareness, reinforcing political commitment and promoting global action to tackle these deadly diseases. The framework will also help shape a new development agenda that advances the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion.
9 Voluntary global NCD targets for 2015
1. Premature mortality from NCDs, 25% reduction ( In Africa, while the reduction could be realised, however we need to intensify awareness creation and capacity building of health workers to respond to the diseases)
2. Essential medicine and technologies for NCDs; 80% coverage (This target will require more funding in purchase of commodities as well as ensuring Africa and Nigeria have sound national insurance scheme, so that the populace could have drugs access regularly)
3. Drug therapy and counselling ; 50% coverage (We should intensify in training of more counsellors not only in tertiary centres but also secondary and primary health centres)
4. Diabetes and Obesity; 0% increase ( A big challenge in Africa but not impossible. We should improve in early diagnosis and regular check up)
5. Raised Blood pressure ; 25% reduction ( Massive awareness raising campaign and screening is needed at the community level)
6. Tobacco use; 30% reduction (New tobacco regulation on adverts and sales)
7. Salt/sodium intake; 30% reduction ( We should intensify in media campaign)
8. Physical inactivity ; 10% reduction (We should create more recreational centres and encourage people to use weekends for exercise)
9. Harmful use of alcohol ; 10% reduction (Improve regulation in adverts and sales)
All comments to Dr Aminu Magashi at
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