WHO, ASCO to Eliminate Inequities in Access to Cancer TreatmentsBySofía Garduño |Mon, 06/06/2022 - 14:02
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) allied to improve the quality of oncological care. The partnership aims to decrease the inequalities that exist in access to cancer treatments. Despite the commitment from many UN members to reduce premature mortality from cancer, less than 10 percent of these countries have progressed toward the achievement of related goals.
“The new partnership will enable ASCO and WHO to develop a coordinated approach to support WHO Member States and cancer centers with improved access to quality care by linking facility-level quality improvement activities with national strategies. This will accelerate implementation of WHO cancer initiatives in breast, cervix and childhood cancers,” said WHO.
While over 90 percent of high-income countries provide comprehensive cancer treatments, less than 15 percent of low-income countries offer these services. The COVID-19 pandemic further increased inequalities in cancer care. Owing to this, it is expected that the burden of cancer in low and middle-income countries will double by 2040.
“I strongly believe that achieving equity for patients across the spectrum of diagnosis, care and survivorship begins with connecting the oncology community worldwide, and this collaboration is a major step toward that goal,” said Everett Vokes, President, ASCO.
The alliance aims to support UN members to improve the quality of their cancer treatments through innovations that must be driven by shared community values, as social innovations rooted in communities reduce inequalities and increase patient satisfaction. The strategies to implement these goals will include community engagement strategies and survivor networks that will offer a complete cancer treatment. The latter is essential to complement cancer care, as providing emotional support to patients and their caregivers is of the utmost importance because mental health is key to fight the disease and cope with treatment.
While cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, it is the third in Mexico. In 2020, around 10 million people died from cancer globally. Between Jan. and Aug. 2020, 683,823 people died from cancer in Mexico. In the country, over 50 percent of deaths caused by cancer correspond to female patients while 49 percent of deaths correspond to male patients. The most common cancers suffered by men are colon and stomach cancers, while breast and uterus cancers are the most common in women.
Around 30 percent of the types of cancer suffered by the Mexican population are linked to smoking, alcohol consumption, sedentarism, a bad diet and lack of exercise. Only 10 percent of cancers are associated with genetics. Almost 30 percent of cancer cases are preventable and another 30 percent can be early diagnosed. Annually, there are 191,000 new cases diagnosed in Mexico and 84,000 deaths.