With focus on cervical cancer, Ban says where people live should not determine chances of survival

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a young girl receives the HVP cervical cancer vaccine, given at public and private schools throughout the county and in the 36,000 vaccination centers of the national health system (March 2014). Photo: PAHO/WHO

4 February 2016 – Marking World Cancer Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that where a person lives should not determine if they develop a cancer or die from it, as he called to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health issue while also reducing the burden that millions face from all cancers.

“We must do more to end the many tragedies that cancer inflicts,” said Mr. Ban in his message on the Day. “About one third of cancers can be prevented, while others are curable if diagnosed and treated early. And even when cancer is advanced, patients should benefit from palliative care,” he said.

Although cancer affects all countries, the UN chief underlined that those with fewer resources are hit hardest. “Nothing illustrates this better than the burden of cervical cancer. The world's poorest countries are home to more than 8 in 10 women newly diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 9 in 10 deaths from the disease.”

While applauding the success of cervical cancer screening in many high-income countries, the Secretary-General insisted that the global community has a responsibility to replicate this progress in low-income States, where cervical cancer remains one of the most common cancers among women.

“Today, we have the knowledge, experience and tools to protect every woman, everywhere,” he stated. “Comprehensive cervical cancer prevention includes vaccines to protect girls against future infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), screening measures and preventive treatment of pre-cancers,” he explained.

This year's World Cancer Day was described by Mr. Ban as having “special impetus” thanks to the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims “to usher in a life of dignity for all people.”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development endorsed by all UN Member States call for reducing by one third premature death from non-communicable diseases. The UN chief also mentioned the Every Woman Every Child movement, which is an example of an initiative working to develop stronger health systems, universal health care coverage and the scale up of life-saving interventions for comprehensive cancer prevention and control.

“On World Cancer Day, let us resolve to end the injustice of preventable suffering from this disease as part of our larger push to leave no one behind,” concluded Mr. Ban.


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