Kathmandu: Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Health and Development (APCAT) calls upon to ‘close the care gap’ in cancer care by strengthening local actions to prevent cancer, diagnose cancer early and provide standard affordable cancer treatment, care and support.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six deaths.
Around one-third of the deaths from cancer are attributed to tobacco use, high body mass index, alcohol consumption, low fruit and vegetable intake, and lack of physical activity.
Cancer is also listed amongst the co-morbidities that increase the risk of serious outcomes of Covid-19. That is why it is even more vital to strengthen health systems so that Covid-19 control measures do not increase the vulnerabilities of people with cancer by jeopardizing cancer-related healthcare services.
In the Asia Pacific region, cancer is the second leading cause of death (after cardiovascular diseases), accounting for around 4.5 million deaths in the region.
Evidence shows that long-term infections with hepatitis B or C viruses can result in cancer of the liver. Asia Pacific region is home to more than half of the world’s total number of people with Hepatitis B and C virus. About 200 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis (180 million with Hepatitis B and 20 million with Hepatitis C) and most people are not even aware that they are infected.
These are the people who are also at high risk of developing liver cancer. However, viral hepatitis-related morbidities and mortalities are avoidable because we have prevention tools (such as vaccine to protect from Hepatitis B virus), as well as good tests and drugs that can treat Hepatitis B and C, and cure Hepatitis C.
For eliminating mother-to-child transmission of Hepatitis B, it is essential to ensure that all pregnant women are tested for the virus and treated where necessary. Also, every newborn must receive the Hepatitis B birth dose, APCAT said.
APCAT Co-Chair Dr Bima Arya Sugiarto, who is also the Mayor of Bogor City, Indonesia said: “The Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Health and Development is committed to accelerating progress towards ending tobacco use, as well as preventing the avoidable burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and viral hepatitis and improving synergy between health and development programs and promoting integrated responses where possible, thereby averting untimely deaths.”