World Cancer Day 2020: Five ways you can join the fight to create change
According to WHO, the global cancer burden is estimated to have caused 9.6 million deaths in 2018, along with 18.1 million new cases in the same year.
World Cancer Day, observed every year on February 4, is an opportunity for everybody across the globe to unite and reinforce the fight against cancer. Cancer affects the lives of almost every single person in the world now; it's rare to come across someone who hasn’t had a family member, friend, colleague or themselves be diagnosed with this disease.
Why you should join the fight against cancer
According to the World Health Organization, the global cancer burden is estimated to have caused 9.6 million deaths in 2018, along with 18.1 million new cases in the same year. Almost half of the new cases and more than half of the cancer deaths in 2018 occurred in Asia, which has nearly 60% of the world's population. The WHO expects these numbers to double by 2030.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR) noted that approximately 2.25 million Indians are living with one of the 36 recognised types of cancer in India, with more than 1.1 million new cases coming up. A total of 7,84,821 people died of cancer in India in the same year. Oral cavity, lung and breast cancers account for the majority of cases in India.
Yes, the cancer burden on India is quite high. But the important thing to note here is that many cancers are preventable, especially in developing countries where a renewed focus on cancer research, awareness and accessible healthcare facilities for all can go a long way in improving the conditions.
This is the reason why it's vital that you join the fight against cancer because little steps taken in the global battle against this disease can and will matter. The theme for World Cancer Day 2020 is "I am and I will" which emphasises the role every individual can play in this fight against cancer. You too can expand your role and take the following easy-yet-effective steps.
1. Inform yourself
The first step you need to take before you roll up your sleeves to spread awareness about cancer is to be informed yourself. You should find out more about the different types of cancer, the impact they have on your community and country, and how to reduce cancer risks by making effective lifestyle changes. The government of India, WHO and organizations like the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) have easily accessible data on every type of cancer you need to know about.
2. Use your voice
The next step is to recognise that you have a voice and it matters. Initiate conversations about cancer in your family, friend circle and every other community network you are a part of. Listen to cancer patients and survivors within these networks to better understand what the healthcare system needs, and then use your voice to spread awareness and promote change in attitudes about cancer.
3. Get social
Thanks to the social media boom, you have platforms from where you can spread information, exchange ideas and connect with other individuals and organizations from around the world who are also immersed in the fight against cancer. Share stories from your own community, voice your concerns, mobilise support by creating events and communities on social media.
4. Advocate for action
You might assume that donating for a cause is where the buck stops, but there is more you can do. Use your voice to communicate with healthcare professionals, policymakers in your city or state, and even government officials. These are the people who can spark effective changes on the ground, apart from having more successful means of spreading awareness at the grassroots level.
5. Translate materials for awareness
A lot of the research and information about cancer, especially the ones published by international organizations, do not reach people because they are in English. If you are bilingual, which most people in India anyways are, you could make a great contribution to the cause by translating materials from English to local languages to spread more awareness.
The steps mentioned above are all easy to accomplish and the means are within your reach. So this World Cancer Day, take a pledge to do a little more to join the global fight against cancer.
For more information, read our article on Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Risks and Prevention.
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