Last week, PRI aired a powerful series highlighting the issue of cancer around the world. From Haiti to India to Uganda, PRI’s The World featured powerful stories of cancer survivors and their advocates, including partners of the foundation, fighting what often is an invisible illness in low- and middle-income countries and beating the odds. But those anecdotes were only the tip of an iceberg.
The problem of global cancer is very real and extensive. In fact, it is a leading cause of death even in the world’s poorest countries. Yet, resources available for providing cancer-related programs or services in such settings still don’t match the need.
As an editor from The World has argued, this graphic is not to take away from important ongoing global health programs – those must continue. However, this statistics, alongside the many stories they represent, should shed light on yet another priority issue deserving global attention and resources.
The good news is that there has been some progress. In fact, the United Nations’ 2011 summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) marked a pivotal step in the right direction, as it set in motion dialogue and commitments at the global, regional, and national level related to cancer, diabetes, and other emerging global health priorities. High-level representatives of countries around the world since have taken steps to identify policies and interventions that can reduce preventable deaths and disability from cancer and NCDs overall.
For our part, LIVESTRONG Foundation continues to advocate for global action on cancer. Drawing on extensive global research conducted in 2007, we have been changing the way the world talks about cancer through our anti-stigma and patient empowerment programs. We also have helped shift local health programs to address the needs of people living with cancer, by funding and otherwise promoting the work of national champions through our Global Cancer Summit and access-to-care initiative.
Moving forward, the foundation will expand our support of advocacy and programs that advance treatment for people living with cancer worldwide, leading investments at the global policy level. Already, the foundation has served as a critical player in the dialogue regarding access to medicines for NCDs globally, partnering with the NCD Alliance and Union for International Cancer Control to lobby key member states throughout the development of the United Nations declaration as well as during follow-up negotiations on a global monitoring framework. At a national level, the foundation encourages cancer leaders around the world to address the issue of access in their countries, and is driving discussions with the United States government with the aim of evolving its global health strategy to leverage existing platforms and adopt a systems-approach to resourcing myriad priorities.
So, LIVESTRONG Foundation is taking steps that bridge the gap between what we know and what we do for cancer globally, and those of us committed to the issue have been making headway and welcome even more partners in this effort. But there is still some distance on the road ahead before we can declare victory. And, as PRI reminded us last week, cancer survivors around the world await that day.