Cancer organisations work to overcome socioeconomic inequities in health care

UICC's updated report on the social determinants of health offers inspiring, pragmatic and successful examples of initiatives by UICC member organisations around the world aimed at reducing inequities in the provision services and closing the gap in cancer care. Photo by Adán Jardón at the Fundación de Cáncer de Mama (FUCAM) in Mexico.
26 January 2022

UICC’s report on the Social Determinants of Health and Cancer now includes actions by Members around the world to overcome the barriers that many people experience in accessing care.

More the one-half of all cancers are preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle and submitting to routine and timely screenings for cancers such breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, which can now be successfully treated when detected early.

Millions of people around the world, however, do not have access to adequate care – they are not exposed to reliable information about behaviours than increase the chance of getting cancer, or they are not in a situation to be checked for early symptoms of disease nor receive timely and adequate treatment and support if a cancer is diagnosed

In April 2021, UICC published a report entitled “The Social Determinants of Health and Cancer”, which looked at socioeconomic and cultural factors, including stigma and discrimination, that can severely affect how a person’s health is managed; in the case of cancer, often their chances of survival. People living in rural areas, for example, have been shown to get cancers associated with modifiable risks—tobacco, HPV, and preventive screening (e.g., colorectal and cervical cancers)—at higher rates than people in urban centres.

Much can be done to overcome these social determinants of health. An updated version of the report now been published ahead of World Cancer Day, driven by the theme of equity, offers inspiring, pragmatic and successful examples of initiatives by UICC member organisations around the world aimed at reducing inequities in the provision services and closing the gap in cancer care.

Technological innovations such as telemedicine and at-home self-testing kits have made it easier to reach remote populations in Rwanda and Malaysia. A network of temporary shelter spaces across Morocco provide accommodation to people with cancer so they can pursue treatment. Mobile fever clinics like those used in India and Malawi for malaria can help promote the rational use of antimicrobials and address antimicrobial resistance. Culturally sensitive health policies in the US, Canada and New Zealand allow the particular needs of indigenous peoples to be heard – and met. The implementation of geriatric assessments in Chile supports better cancer care for older adults  

“Addressing the socioeconomic factors that cause ill health and result in health inequities is crucial in order for everyone to attain the highest possible standard of health to which they are entitled as a fundamental right – and as this updated report demonstrates, there are many actions that individuals, organisations and governments can take to successfully to do so.”
–    Dr Sonali Johnson, Head of Advocacy, UICC, author of “The Social Determinants of Health and Cancer

Outreach programmes, education (on health risks as well as to raise awareness and overcome stigma and discrimination within the medical profession and among the general public), and targeted investments in quality services designed to be accessible by all populations, are all actions that can be taken to help reduce the health inequities observed between populations – and avoid millions of people from dying from a preventable disease.

Last update: 
Monday 21 February 2022
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