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Monday April 15, 2024

World Cancer Day: 180,000 new cancer cases in Pakistan every year

By Our Correspondent
February 04, 2024

LAHORE : The World Cancer Day, led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), aims to mobilise urgent action to improve cancer risk awareness as well as prevention, treatment and care services for all individuals, regardless of who they are and where they live.

To mark the third year of the ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign, which highlights the significant inequities that persist across the globe in the availability of and access to essential cancer services, UICC has released the World Cancer Day 2024 Equity Report.

The image is a poster by the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre as part of the ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign in connection with World Cancer Day. — Facebook/skmch
The image is a poster by the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre as part of the ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign in connection with World Cancer Day. — Facebook/skmch

The report provides local perspectives and experiences on inequities in cancer care in regions around the world, notably in low-resource settings such as Pakistan, as well as expert recommendations on how to address them.

“It is estimated that every year, nearly 180,000 new cancer cases occur in Pakistan. There is a need to improve healthcare infrastructure in the country to enable timely diagnosis and comprehensive treatment for these individuals. Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH & RC) has provided access to high quality cancer care since 1994 – by providing free of charge treatment to over 75% of the cancer patients seen at the institution which has campuses in Lahore and Peshawar.

A third hospital being built in Karachi will further help close the cancer care gap in the region. All of us, individuals, healthcare professionals, organisations, or policy-makers can support our efforts to make cancer care accessible for all those who need it, regardless of who they are or where they live.” – Dr Faisal Sultan, CEO of SKMCH&RC UICC provides in the report nine general recommendations to governments to bridge the cancer care gap. Particularly relevant for Pakistan is strengthening population-based cancer registries, implementing an effective national cancer strategy, enhancing health literacy and education around cancer, and developing context-specific and resource-appropriate screening and early-diagnosis programmes. “UICC’s World Cancer Day Equity Report shines a light on the barriers to care and significant disparities in outcomes due to prejudices and assumptions based on socioeconomic status, gender and other cultural norms, race and ethnicity, age, geographical location, sexual orientation and disability. More importantly, it provides local insights into the challenges we face in diverse regions, guiding us toward targeted solutions” – Prof. Jeff Dunn, AO, President of the Union for International Cancer Control To further mark the final year of the Close the Care Gap campaign, UICC is mobilising a global call to action that echoes the sentiments and recommendations expressed in the World Cancer Day Equity Report.

UICC is encouraging all health organisations and to sign the call to action, informing their respective Ministry of Health of the need to close the care gap and recommended actions that can help do so.

“We need to develop an effective national cancer strategy for prevention and treatment of cancer in Pakistan. It should be based on an evidence-based assessment of the countrywide cancer burden, addressing specific barriers faced by our population. With Shaukat Khanum Hospitals, we have developed a model of best practices and demonstrated that we can deliver quality cancer care even in a country like ours with limited resources. Excellence in cancer care for the needy is challenging but not impossible. Similarly, we need to develop context-specific early diagnosis programmes. Early detection of cancers can lead to treatment that is more successful and reduces cost to the health system.

Dr Aasim Yusuf, Chief Medical Officer of SKMCH & RC said such programmes also require effective monitoring, which requires us to strengthen population-based cancer registries. All these measures can help lower barriers to early detection and treatment of cancer in a timely manner.”