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Closing The ‘Cancer Divide’ Between Developing And Developed Countries

Noting “there is a huge ‘cancer divide’ between rich and poor,” with more than half of new cancer cases and almost two-thirds of all cancer deaths occurring in developing countries, this year’s World Cancer Day theme, “Together It Is Possible,” “calls on all individuals, organizations and governments to do their part to reduce premature deaths from cancers by 25 percent by 2025,” Felicia Knaul, secretariat for the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries, and Jonathan Quick, president of Management Sciences for Health, write in a Huffington Post opinion piece. “But there have been four myths that have held back cancer care and control in developing countries,” they write.

The first “is that cancer is ‘not a problem in developing countries,'” they state, but note “cancer already causes more deaths in low- and middle-income countries than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.” The second myth is there is “little that developing countries can do” to address cancer, but “[t]he truth is that successful cancer programs exist in a number of lower income countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” they write. “The third myth is that responding to the cancer challenge will ‘divert attention from more urgent global health priorities’ set by the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals,” when the “truth is that synergies exist for simultaneously addressing multiple health needs,” Knaul and Quick state. The “fourth myth is that developing countries ‘cannot afford cancer interventions,'” but in reality, “the world cannot afford not to invest in cancer care and control in these countries,” they say, adding, “[L]et’s start a global pink revolution to replace the myths with truths and the complacency with action” (2/4).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.