The World Health Organisation (WHO) has unveiled a Global Breast Cancer Initiative Framework providing a roadmap to attain the targets of saving 2.5 million people from breast cancer by 2040.
The unveiling comes as the world observes World Cancer Day, celebrated every year on February 4, to promote awareness of cancer as a public health issue and to strengthen actions towards improving access to quality care and screening.
The framework, according to the WHO said, recommends that countries implement the three pillars of health promotion for early detection, timely diagnosis and comprehensive management of breast cancer to reach the targets.
More than 2.3 million breast cancer cases occur annually, making it the most common cancer among adults.
WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said in 95 per cent of countries, breast cancer was the first or second leading cause of female cancer deaths.
”Yet, survival from breast cancer is widely inequitable between and within countries; nearly 80 per cent of deaths from breast and cervical cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries,” he stated. “Countries with weaker health systems are least able to manage the increasing burden of breast cancer.”
He added, “It places a tremendous strain on individuals, families, communities, health systems, and economies, so it must be a priority for ministries of health and governments everywhere.”
He explained that WHO has the tools and the know-how to prevent breast cancer and save lives, supporting more than 70 countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries, to detect breast cancer earlier, diagnose faster, treat it better and give everyone with breast cancer the hope of a cancer-free future.
The WHO director-general said a 2020 study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests that with an estimated 4.4 million women dying of cancer in 2020, nearly one million children were orphaned by cancer, 25 per cent of which were due to breast cancer.
Also, Bente Mikkelsen, WHO director for noncommunicable diseases, said countries need to ensure that the framework engages and integrates into primary health care.
She said the newly published framework leverages proven strategies to design country-specific, resource-appropriate health systems for delivering breast-cancer care in low- and middle-income settings.
According to her, it outlines three pillars of action with specific key performance indicators.