Every year, 4th February is celebrated as World Cancer Day. The theme for 2022-2024 is “Close the Care Gap”.
In healthcare, inequality refers to the uneven distribution of resources. By contrast, inequity means unjust, avoidable differences in care or outcomes.
The difference may seem subtle, but closing the cancer care gap isn’t really about simply providing everyone with equal resources. One size doesn’t fit all, and every
challenge demands a different solution. Equity is about giving everyone what they need to bring them up to the same level.
There are several barriers to cancer care:
- Gender norms and discrimination
- Barriers for minority populations
- Socioeconomic status
- The rural-urban divide
- Refugee status and forced displacement
- Homophobia, transphobia and related discrimination
- Age discrimination
What can you do to reduce your cancer risk?
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide.
Cancer kills nearly 10 million people a year and some 70% of those are aged 65 or older, yet older populations face disproportionate barriers to effective treatment.
70% of cancer deaths occur in low-to-middle income countries.
Less than 30% of low-income countries have cancer treatment services available (compared to 90% in high-income countries).
For white women in the US, the five-year survival rate for cervical cancer is 71%. For black women, the rate is just 58%.
In New Zealand, Māori are twice as likely to die from cancer as non-Māori.
In refugee populations, cancer is more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, leading to worse outcomes.
Childhood cancer survival rates are more than 80% in high-income countries and 20% in low-income countries.
Genetic mutations play a role in 5-10% of all cancers, whereas 27% of cancers relate to tobacco and alcohol use.
Up to 3.7 million lives could be saved each year through resource appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and timely and quality treatment.
The first year of the ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign is all about understanding and recognising the inequities in cancer care around the globe. It’s about having an open mind, challenging assumptions and looking at the hard facts:
- Inequity in cancer care costs lives.
- People who seek cancer care hit barriers at every turn.
- Income, education, location and discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability and lifestyle are just a few of the factors that can negatively affect care.
- The gap affects everyone, including you and your loved ones.
- These barriers are not set in stone. They can be changed.
This is the year to question the status quo and help reduce stigma; to listen to the perspectives of the people living with cancer and their communities and let those lived experiences guide our thoughts and actions.
That’s how we can begin to imagine a better way of doing things and to build a fairer vision of the future—a future where people live healthier lives and have better access to health and cancer services, no matter where they are born, grow, age, work or live.
Link to World Cancer Day 2022 web site:
Link to Close the Care Gap video: