BOGOTA – Cancer is the second biggest killer in Latin America with 550,000 victims in 2012 alone and constitutes a threat that requires the concerted efforts of the public and private sectors to improve access to preventive measures and treatment, experts told EFE.
At the presentation in Bogota of the study entitled “Cancer control, access and inequality in Latin America: A tale of light and shadow,” prepared by The Economist Intelligence Unit for the Roche company, authorities said that deaths from cancer will increase by 106 percent by 2035 and thus intervention in the matter is strongly urged.
The results of the study, dealt with in the panel discussion entitled “LATAM fight against cancer and inequality: Identifying successful models,” include findings from 12 countries where although there have been advances, “disparity still exists” in implementing cancer control efforts, said Irene Mia, the global editorial director for The Economist Intelligence Unit.
The report focuses on Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, which together had 92 percent of the cancer cases accounting for 91 percent of the deaths from the disease in its many forms in Central and South America in 2012.
In the panel discussion, which was held as part of the “War on Cancer LATAM” conference, participants mentioned as conclusions of the study the “high rates of diagnosis in advanced stages” of cancer and the “insufficient resources for current and future needs in attending to the disease.”
It was also noted that “fragmented healthcare systems” and “inequality in access to treatment between urban and rural areas” exist in the region.
The Economist magazine and Roche warned that in the 12 nations mentioned cancer is the cause, on average, of 19 percent of all deaths.
Therefore, Mia explained, “Although in several countries the National Cancer Control Plan has been implemented or strengthened, this tool does not always cover the entire population who needs it and does not have enough economic resources.”
In fact, the study found that in Latin America average public healthcare expenditures amount to 4.6 percent of GDP, 62 percent less than in high-income countries where it amounts to 7.42 percent.
The X-ray of the issue that was presented, said the general manager of Roche S.A. Colombia, Carlos Estrada, “shows that challenges in the issues of education, raising awareness, proper diagnosis, infrastructure and financing persist.”
“We actors must all join together to discuss the problem and the barriers that exist, without forgetting that cancer is a complex situation to deal with but which requires an immediate solution because it’s a question of life and death,” he said.