By Asmau Ahmad
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said about 70 per cent or more of persons living with cancer in low- and middle-income countries suffer financial hardship, and loss of assets while seeking treatment for the chronic disease.
The WHO stated this at the launch of the first global survey aimed at amplifying the voices of persons affected by cancer.
The survey is to reach more than 100,000 responders from 100 countries, a majority of whom live in low- and middle-income countries.
“It has also been noted in recent studies that nearly half of people diagnosed with cancer experience anxiety and loss of faith and may be abandoned by their intimate partners.
In low- and middle-income countries, financial hardship and loss of assets can be experienced by 70 per cent or more of those affected,” WHO said.
The survey results are expected in early 2023 and, thereafter, used to shape policies, programmes, and services for people affected by cancer globally.
The WHO said the survey is part of a broader campaign intended to amplify the voices of those affected by cancer – survivors, caregivers, and the bereaved – as part of their Framework for Meaningful Engagement of People Living with Noncommunicable diseases.
The result, the global health agency said, is expected to feed into the design of policies and programmes to offer better well-being in the context of a cancer diagnosis and co-create solutions for the future.
A cancer diagnosis triggers a broad and profound effect on the health and well-being of all those involved, WHO said.
Nearly every family globally is affected by cancer, either directly – 1 in 5 people are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime – or as caregivers or family members, said WHO.
Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom, on his part said the focus of cancer control should be broader than clinical care to include the needs of the people affected by the disease.
“Global cancer policies must be shaped by more than data and scientific research, to include the voices and insight of people impacted by the disease,” he added.
WHO in its press release noted that for a long time, the need and preferences of persons living with cancer have remained unknown for a long time to policymakers and providers, hence the need for the survey.
“We are making a long-term commitment to place people affected by cancer properly at the centre of the agenda, to co-create better solutions” explained the Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO, Dr Bente Mikkelsen.
The campaign will have four phases: releasing the global survey, hosting national consultations, presenting best practices, and implementing community-led initiatives, Mikkelsen said.