[Updated on 23 February 2022]
Nearly two years into the pandemic, the global cancer community rallied noticeably to make its voice heard and draw attention to the need for greater investment and more equitable access to cancer services, which have been severely disrupted by COVID-19.
In the days leading up to World Cancer Day, on 4 February itself and in the days following, there were over 20,000 press mentions, hundreds of thousands of engagements on social media and web visitors, and some one thousand activities were organised and posted to the World Cancer Day map of activities. On World Cancer Day itself, 324 landmarks were illuminated in orange and blue around the world, including over 180 in Latin America alone.
Governments once again pledged greater focus on and investment in cancer control, including a call for evidence in the UK for a ten-year plan and a declaration by US President Joe Biden to "reignite Cancer Moonshot to end cancer as we know it.” The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) called for an increase in cancer treatment and prevention services to reduce new cases of the disease, and the Ministry of Health in Kenya aims to make screening, diagnosis, and treatment accessible through the Universal Health Coverage and the National Health Insurance Fund. Kenya will also be one of seven Africa countries set to benefit from an initiative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that will provide life-saving nuclear medicine and radiotherapy to select countries.
It is, however, the extraordinary grassroots movement that makes World Cancer Day such a success. Thousands around the world generated remarkable enthusiasm for the new 2022 campaign theme to explain the many gaps and disparities that exist in accessing quality cancer care. Indeed, UICC thanks all those who took the time to post a video of why they want to close the care gap.
The challenges posed by COVID-19 and the strain the pandemic has placed on essential services such as treatment and screening were also at the forefront of many of the discussions, as there appears to be a growing recognition of the higher cancer mortality the world potentially faces due to later-stage diagnoses in the months and years to come.
The pandemic has also made it very difficult to fundraise and this year again a good number of activities were organised virtually. UICC is therefore all the more grateful for the World Cancer Day Solidarity Challenge that took place again this year, and to the celebrities and those on the Zwift platform who took part.
For many members and supporters, World Cancer Day activities will continue throughout the rest of the month To everyone, everywhere, UICC would like to express its thanks and gratitude: health community, organisations, businesses, leaders, governments, young people and individuals from all walks of life, as well as its partners and their invaluable support for World Cancer Day.