The world has come to a stage where Cancer is a household word, and this global epidemic have over the years affected so many lives that everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or is fighting it.
4th February is celebrated as World Cancer Day and the aim is to raise awareness about cancer and encourage people towards prevention, detection, and treatment. This year under the theme ‘Not beyond us’, people are being advised to take a positive and proactive approach towards the fight against cancer. Fiinovation, a research organization working with corporations on CSR health projects in India, understands that there are available solutions which exist and all stakeholders have a role to play in this battle against the disease.
Fiinovation on this day intends to raise awareness about the disease and advocate the cause by pressing governments and individuals across the globe to take action. It is estimated that globally cancer deaths are set to increase hence there is urgent need to develop practical strategies to curb the menace. The world needs to unite in the fight against cancer. Presently, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years). The disease seems to have taken a grip on India with a million new cases being reported each year.
Fiinovation understands that CSR health projects can help reduce the disparities that exist between people from different socio economic backgrounds in terms of access to prevention, treatment and palliative care. India should lead the fight against cancer by laying more emphasis on the implementation of the current National Cancer Control Programme as 5 lakh people die every year even though cancer control has been an area of work for the last 50 years. According to the WHO, the number of deaths is likely to increase to 7 lakh by the end of 2015.
India is the 2nd largest producer of tobacco and 40% of the cancer cases in the country are due to tobacco use. Despite increase in taxation, tobacco consumption has not been decreasing and other measures need to be taken up by the Ministry of Health. Oral and lung cancers in males and cervix and breast in females account for over 50% of all cancer deaths in India. A skewed doctor-to-patient ratio only worsens the situation. The government is working towards a target doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,000 by 2021, which currently is 1:2,000.
India also needs to focus on reducing the gaps that exist in terms of availability and accessibility of cancer care facilities. Centre and States should focus on strengthening the cancer care centres with adequate technological advancements and skilled healthcare professionals at the regional levels. Government hospitals in every district should have an Oncology Wing by 2017. Health camps need to be organized at every gram panchayat level which shall help to ensure early detection and facilitation of preventive healthcare.
Fiinovation believes that the CSR policies for corporations addressing the issue of health must be aligned to their core values and should aim towards taking up a cluster of 2-3 districts for prevention, early detection, minimal treatment and provision of supportive cancer care which can help save thousands of lives. Even civil society should work towards increasing awareness about cancer and its prevention among local communities. All these approaches collectively will create a positive impact on the health status of the country. Together, we can reduce the number of cancer deaths in the country and ensure that Cancer Is Not Beyond Us.
By Rahul Choudhury
Media Team – Fiinovation