Health experts are calling for action to expand cancer care and control in the developing world. A paper published by the medical journal Lancet says cancer was once thought of mostly as a problem in the developed world. But it says cancer is now a leading cause of death and disability in poor countries.
Experts from Harvard University and other organizations urge the international community to fight cancer aggressively. They say it should be fighting the way HIV/AIDS has been fought in Africa. Cancer kills more than seven and a half million people a year worldwide. The experts say almost two-thirds are in low-income and middle-income countries. They say cancer kills more people in developing countries than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
But they say the world spends only five percent of its cancer resources in those countries. Felicia Knaul from the Harvard Medical School was one of the authors of the paper. She was in Mexico when she was found to have breast cancer. She received treatment there. She says the experience showed her the sharp divide between the rich and the poor in treating breast cancer.She said: “And we are seeing more and more how this is attacking young women. It’s the number two cause of death in Mexico for women thirty to fifty-four.” She said all over the developing world, except in the very poorest countries, breast cancer is the number one cancer-related death among young women.
Professor Knaul met community health workers during her work in developing countries. She says they were an important part of efforts to reduce deaths from cervical cancer. They were able to persuade women to get tested and to get vaccinated against a virus that can cause it. The experts say cancer care does not have to be expensive. For example, patients can be treated with lower-cost drugs that are off-patent.
This means the drugs are no longer legally protected against being copied. In another new report, the American Cancer Society says cancer has the highest economic cost of any cause of death. It caused an estimated nine hundred billion dollars in economic losses worldwide in two thousand eight. That was one and a half percent of the world economy, and just losses from early death and disability. The study did not estimate direct medical costs. And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report.
Words in This Story
expert – n. a person with a high level of knowledge or skill relating to a particular subject or activity
journal – n. a serious magazine or newspaper that is published regularly about a particular subject
disability – n. an illness, injury, or condition that makes it difficult for someone to do the things that other people do
aggressively – adv. in an angry and violent way
tuberculosis – n. (abbreviation TB) a serious infectious disease that can attack many parts of a person’s body, especially their lungs
malaria – n. a disease that you can get from the bite of a particular type of mosquito (= a small flying insect). Malaria causes periods of fever and makes you shiver and feel very cold. It is common in many hotter parts of the world
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