World Cancer Day is held every 4th February, and this year’s World Cancer Day’s theme, “Close the Care Gap”, is about spreading awareness of this equity gap that affects the majority of the world’s population, in high as well as low- and middle-income countries, and is costing lives.
Oncological advances have significantly improved cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment and medical outcomes. Still, there is a long road ahead of us to achieve equitable access to care management. Gaps exist in almost every type of cancer and nearly every aspect of cancer care, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing emotional and mental support. As a result of this, the theme of World Cancer Day 2022 is “Close the Gap”. It is the start of something powerful. Something strong. It is a three-year campaign to raise awareness and ensure that every individual in the world has access to high standards of cancer care.
What does the care gap mean?
A discrepancy between recommended best practices and the care that is offered to the patients is called the care gap. This gives us an excellent overview, but is it sufficient? The World Cancer Day campaign’s much more nuanced definition was constructive. Due to the income, education, geographic location, and discrimination based on ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, age, and lifestyle, there is a significant disparity in access, needs, and services. Numerous research studies suggest that people can go through different experiences with a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival. The gap is accurate, and it’s costing people their lives. But what causes these discrepancies? And how can we begin to close the gap or cover them up?
The majority of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services. Despite the fact that we all live in a time of incredible advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, many of us are denied primary care when it comes to cancer.
What are the leading causes for gaps in medical care?
The issue of care gaps is very complicated. Of course, there are issues with access to and the affordability of care and medication, but the health outcomes are only a tiny part of the story. Broader system-related factors include social determinants of health, namely, economic stability, level of education, sociodemographic, and environmental factors. These can have a significant impact on the outcomes. Medical practitioners may have varying levels and types of training and different workloads, and unconscious biases, resulting in care gaps. Various medical health centres in other regions within a country may provide inconsistent standards of care due to the differences in person-centred approaches, supportive mechanisms, and infrastructure.
What can we do to close the gaps in care?
There is no single solution to closing gaps in care as there is no universal approach to treating cancer. Practical, adaptable tools and strategies are required, which are backed up by consensus-based, person-centred best practices. We need a realistic assessment of cancer patients’ needs as well as their participation and collaboration with cancer care professionals to co-develop long term and short term solutions. People who are experiencing care gaps must be added to all kinds of research studies and experiments. People mainly from marginalized communities are particularly affected by gaps. Some of the gaps may be easier to close, but the majority will necessitate systematic changes as well as significant political power and advocacy. The pandemic has created significantly new cancer care gaps and has widened the existing ones, both of which are likely to widen as we completely recover. However, the post Covid-19 recovery periods present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for change. This year’s World Cancer Day has a new and powerful message of equity and changes towards positivity.
Hope the world comes together and can listen to this incredible message and make significant improvements for all cancer patients.
How can we individually play a vital role and move towards change?
It is essential to raise our voices and put pressure on the government to address the root causes of these inequalities and treat cancer as a severe health issue by confronting stigma and discrimination in all forms. – Vocally, Directly and Unwaveringly.