Increase Funding for Cancer Treatment in the Developing World

chemo credit TipsTimes via flickr

Target: World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan

Goal: To raise public awareness about cancer in the developing world and to increase funding for early detection and treatment of cancer.

The Uganda Cancer Institute is the only cancer treatment facility in a country of 33 million people. The institute treats about 22,000 patients a year and of those, 20,000 die within a year. A feature piece in the BBC discusses how cancer is often mistaken for a rich person’s disease, or a disease of the developed nations only, and how developing countries like Uganda and Haiti tend to be associated more with diseases such as malaria and AIDS. This misrepresentation affects funding for treatment and educational programs about early detection. As a result, cancer remains a death sentence in the developing world. Sign this petition and urge the the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise public awareness about cancer in the developing world and increase funding for treatment and early detection education.

Cancer kills more than twice the number of people in the developing world than AIDS, with 4.8 million people dying each year from cancer and 2.1 million dying of HIV/AIDS. However, $6.2 billion in funding is spent on HIV/AIDS each year while only $168 million is spent on cancer–and 90 percent of that cancer funding is spent on anti-tobacco campaigns, according to the BBC. Dr. Jackson Orem, director of the Uganda Cancer Institute who was interviewed for the BBC article, states that most Ugandans do not have a real concept of cancer or of cancer treatment; in some languages, there is not even a word for cancer. There is no such thing as early diagnosis or detection and many do not even attempt to seek medical treatment because even with treatment cancer remains, in many cases, a death sentence.

One of the main reasons why cancer remains a death sentence is that many do not attempt to seek treatment until the cancer is in its last stages. Additionally, many cancers in Africa are caused by infections. In North America, one in 25 cancers is caused by infection (for example, the HPV virus causes cervical cancer), but in developing countries, the number is closer to one in four. Poor sanitation in these countries leads to a greater exposure to germs, while many people are not aware of the benefits of vaccines in preventing infections.

Funding for cancer treatment in the developing world needs to be increased. Educational programs need to be instated in which people are told about the importance of early detection. The misconception about cancer only affecting people in developed nations needs to be corrected so that patients in Uganda, Haiti, and other countries can get the treatment that they deserve and be given a fighting chance. Even with the newest medicines and procedures, cancer still claims thousands of lives each year in the U.S. Imagine what it would be like to live in a country with only one cancer treatment facility. Imagine what it is like for victims of cancer in the developing world. Sign this petition and urge the WHO to increase public awareness and increase funding for the treatment of cancer in these nations.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO,

Cancer in the developing world remains in large part a death sentence for those who seek treatment for their illness. Additionally, one in four cancers are the result of infection- for example, HPV causes cervical cancer, Hepatitis B causes liver cancer, and Kaposi’s sarcoma is caused by a virus that attacks people with weak immune systems- an obvious problem for a nation with over 2.1 million people dying each year from HIV/AIDS.

Due to a common misconception about the biggest threats to health in the developing world, funding for cancer treatment and educational programs about the importance of early detection is lacking. There is money readily available for HIV/AIDS and malaria; however, cancer kills more than twice the number of people than HIV/AIDS does every year.

Perhaps this is due in large part to the excellent campaigns for awareness done on behalf of diseases such as AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Whatever the reason, the lack of funding for this silent killer must be remedied. We are calling on you to issue an intense public awareness campaign to increase funding for the treatment of cancer in the developing world.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: TipsTimes via Flickr

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