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WHO unveils campaign to address needs of cancer patients

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday unveiled the first global survey to better understand and address the needs of all persons affected by cancer.

WHO in a statement said that the survey was part of a broader campaign, designed with and intended to amplify the voices of those affected by cancer, survivors, caregivers, and the bereaved.

According to it, the survey is part of WHO’s Framework for Meaningful Engagement of People Living with Noncommunicable diseases.

It said that the framework was a commitment to respectfully and meaningfully engage PLWNCDs in co-designing policies, programmes, and solutions.

“The survey results will 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,” it said.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said that nearly every family globally was affected by cancer, either directly, one in five people are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime or as caregivers or family members.

Ghebreyesus said a cancer diagnosis triggers a broad and profound effect on the health and well-being of all those involved.

“For too long, the focus in cancer control has been on clinical care and not on the broader needs of people affected by cancer. 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 said

Mrs. Ruth Hoffman, President of the American Childhood Cancer Organisation said that recent studies have shown that nearly half of people diagnosed with cancer experience anxiety and loss of faith and may be abandoned by their intimate partners.

Hoffmann said that in low and middle-income countries, financial hardship and loss of assets can be experienced by 70 per cent or more of those affected.

“When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, our lives changed drastically and in ways that we did not expect. The effects of cancer last a lifetime,” Hoffman said.

Also, Dr Bente Mikkelsen, Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO said that understanding and amplifying the lived experiences of people affected by cancer can create more effective and supportive systems.

Mikkelsen said that yet, the needs and preferences of people with cancer and their caregivers remain unknown to many providers and policy-makers.

“We are making a long-term commitment to place people affected by cancer properly at the center of the agenda, to co-create better solutions.

“This campaign will include four phases: releasing the global survey, hosting national consultations, presenting best practices and implementing community-led initiatives.

“We are ready to open a new chapter and improve the well-being of people affected by cancer,” the director said.

Mikkelsen said that the ambition of the global survey was to reach more than 100,000 responders from 100 countries.

The director said a majority of the responders lived in low- and middle-income countries.

Mikkelsen said that the survey results are expected in early 2023 and, thereafter, used to shape policies, programmes, and services for people affected by cancer globally.

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