Call to Action to Close the Care Gap on World Cancer Day
22 January 2024 – The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) places the spotlight on World Cancer Day, led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), to mobilise urgent action to improve cancer risk awareness, treatment and care services for all individuals, regardless of who they are and where they live.
#CloseTheCareGap #WorldCancerDay #LowerCancerRisk #CANSACares
To mark the third year of the ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign, that highlights the significant inequalities that persist across the globe in the availability of and access to essential cancer services, UICC has released the World Cancer Day 2024 Equity Report. The report provides local perspectives and experiences on inequities in cancer care in regions around the world, including South Africa as well as expert recommendations on how to address them.
Cancer Reality in South Africa
According to Elize Joubert, CANSA CEO,” Currently, South Africa’s public healthcare system is failing to fulfil the right to access to health for cancer patients, largely due to issues with policy creation and implementation, structure of public healthcare and insufficient resource allocation to cancer control. The reality is that over 80% of cancer patients in South Africa that depend on the public system, experience low or no access to screening, care and medicine while also enduring long waiting periods for treatment. Some patients from rural areas, travel long distances only to get to a facility that has a shortage of technically skilled oncology staff which is needed to effectively deliver treatment.”
Recommendations and action required
UICC provides in the report nine general recommendations to governments to bridge the cancer care gap. Particularly relevant for South Africa, is an overall integrated approach for cancer control.
“There is no clarity in how cancer services across all levels of care structure will be funded. This calls for immediate action in establishing mechanisms and platforms for multi stakeholder / sectoral engagement, collaboration and cooperation,” adds Joubert.
CANSA supports the UICC recommendations, emphasising the need to implement an effective national cancer strategy based on an evidence-based assessment of the countrywide cancer burden, addressing financial hardship and barriers faced by underserved populations. Further, to incorporate comprehensive cancer services into national health benefit packages to achieve universal health coverage.
Sign, send and share
To further mark the final year of the Close the Care Gap campaign, CANSA joins UICC in mobilising a call to action that echoes the sentiments and recommendations expressed in the World Cancer Day Equity Report.
Lorraine Govender, CANSA National Manager, Health Programmes explains, “Together with UICC, we call for all to sign the a global call to action, informing our Ministry of Health of the need to close the care gap and recommended actions that can help do so. Such as implementing routine screening programmes for common cancers, integrate them into existing healthcare programmes, and utilise telemedicine services and mobile units to reach remote populations. The earlier a cancer is detected, the more successfully it can be treated and cost less to the health system. To mark WCD CANSA is hosting free screening clinics in certain areas. Find more information on the CANSA Website.”
CANSA further encourages participation the World Cancer Day 5k Challenge (enquire at your local CANSA Care Centre) or view on the CANSA website. Grab a buddy and take part in a 5 km event for CANSA to highlight World Cancer Day. It’s simple, close a loop of 5 km, by walking, hiking, running, swimming or even dancing. Participants can record it on their favourite fitness tracker, post it on social media platform of choice and nominate five others to take up the challenge and help spread the word. And help further by donating R50 towards CANSA’s health education initiatives and care and support programmes.
Gallery of events that took place
How CANSA helps to close the care gap
CANSA’s eight Care Homes situated in seven provinces provide home-from-home accommodation, nutritious meals for cancer patients and transport to and from cancer treatment centres. CANSA Tough Living with Cancer (TLC) provides emotional support and guidance to children, teens and families affected by cancer. CANSA TLC Lodges provide lodging for parents / guardians whose children are undergoing cancer treatment in Pretoria, Durban, Polokwane and TLC Tygerberg Teenage Support Rooms on Tygerberg Hospital grounds.
Says Govender, “We further help with our CANSA Information and Support Desks at public hospitals, run by staff and trained volunteers, providing information to patients and help with referrals to support groups, Tele Counselling, clinical counselling and other services. The Tele Counselling is freely available in seven languages to cancer patients, caregivers and families/ parents/ guardians of children living with cancer.”
“Get regular medical check-ups and do self-examinations to increase chances of discovering cancer early when treatment is most likely to be successful. CANSA offers a variety of cancer screenings at our CANSA Care Centres, pop-up screening units and workplace wellness programmes that includes education around recognising the symptoms of cancer and lowering personal cancer risk,” concludes Govender.
(For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.)
CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We offer a Tele Counselling service in seven languages free of charge. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 8 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.
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