While people across the globe were recognising World Cancer Day (4th February): ‘We can .I can’ to highlight the on-going fight against cancer, Merck joined hands with Uganda Ministry of Health to raise awareness about cancer early detection and prevention in the heart of Africa, highlighting the fact that reducing the global burden of cancer depends on the work and dedication of many to prevent and treat cancer.
Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer of Merck Healthcare emphasised during the campaign: ‘We have no doubt that in order to prevent and reduce the death rate from cancer and other non-communicable diseases, we will need to see collaboration and collective action from Health Ministries, Governments, Non-Government Organisations, Academia, media and industry. The size and complexity of the task is so large that no single institution can manage on its own, so integration of effort is necessary to improve access to sustainable cancer care in Africa.’
‘We believe that prevention is better than cure, so today Merck joins hands with Ministry of Health to raise cancer awareness in the rural areas of Uganda.’ Kelej added.
Merck has reached more than 4,000 Ugandans to enable them to prevent the diseases and give them advice on how to lead healthier lives. By 2018 Merck aims to reach 100,000 community members through its combined diabetes and cancer awareness campaigns as part of Merck Cancer Control Programme (MCCP).
At the launch of the campaign; Minster of State of Health, Sarah Opendi stated that most cancer patients report to the health facility when cancer is in the advanced stage which poses a challenge because nothing much can be done to save the patient’s life. This is partly due to the nature of the cancers since they have no symptoms in early stages but also due to our poor health-seeking behaviours.
‘According to World Health Organization (WHO), over one third of cancer deaths are due to preventable causes such as viral infection, poor nutrition and widespread tobacco use. It is important to note that once diagnosed early cancer can be treated and cured. Uganda just like other developing countries faces a wide range of health system challenges and cancer is often not a priority in limited resource settings. Therefore the Ministry of Health appreciates private public partnership with reputable companies like Merck to promote key health guidelines and raise awareness about cancer so that people learn how to detect and prevent it,’ she added.
According to WHO by 2020 there are expected to be 16 million new cases of cancer every year, 70% of which will be in developing countries where governments are least prepared to address the growing cancer burden and where survival rates are often less than half those of more developed countries.