World commemorates Cancer Day

04 February 2021 | Events

On World Cancer Day, the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) joins global partners to shine a light on the heroic responses to the Covid-19 pandemic by the local and international cancer community struggling to maintain progress in cancer care.
Led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the 2021 World Cancer Day theme “I Am and I Will” encapsulates frontline health workers’ extraordinary spirit and the strength. Their stories captured throughout the past year are being showcased on World Cancer Day in testimonies and articles on a dedicated page of the official website. These stories highlight that while the pandemic is threatening the progress being made in the fight against cancer, it has also created the opportunity to address systemic weaknesses in many national health systems.
The results of a survey conducted by UICC with over 100 of its member organisations in 55 countries, revealed that their income and organisational activities are under significant pressure, with almost three-quarters reporting reductions in income of anywhere from 25% to 100% in 2020 and similar projections for 2021.
CAN was also impacted, suffering a 35% loss in income this past year with projections of a 54% reduction in expected income for this financial year, while expenses have increased and support programmes to patients must continue despite the challenges.
Testimonies from UICC members confirm the difficulties for cancer organisations in maintaining their life-saving services. In Namibia, the National Cancer Outreach Programme could not venture into rural Namibia to screen patients and educate the masses on cancer, while the well-known Bank Windhoek Cancer Apple Project was called off during the height of the pandemic last year. In addition, this meant that the annual budget for Patient Financial Assistance of CAN was drastically cut and selective financial support could be extended to only the most vulnerable of cancer patients.

Forging ahead
In spite of these headwinds, the CAN team remained steadfast in their mission and as a registered essential services provider they were in contact with patients, doctors, and hospitals during lock-down. By enforcing strict screening protocols during the peak of the pandemic they could welcome patients to their interim homes, thereby ensuring patient support continued despite the challenges. Following the global guidelines in health practices we resumed clinical services at the first opportunity we could by July 2020.
Even fundraising sought new innovative approaches to ensure CAN remains financially operational to serve the community despite the odds not being in our favour.
Considerable challenges remain in the fight against cancer. The widespread impact of the pandemic will make it harder for countries to achieve certain sustainable development goals, in particular health targets and universal health coverage.
World Cancer Day 2021 is dedicated to the courage and achievements of people living with cancer and their families, as well as the nurses, doctors, researchers, volunteers and other caregivers and advocates who care for them and work on their behalf – and calls for everyone in helping to save lives from this disease.
“Despite the challenges, we must continue to bring hope where it may have dissipated. Now, more than ever before, our communities and patients need us, and as a global cancer community, we must reaffirm our commitment to serve our people,” concludes CAN chief executive Rolf Hansen.