FEBRUARY 4 — World Cancer Day is a global initiative to unite communities across the world in the war against cancer. It is celebrated on Feb 4 annually with the aim of avoiding preventable deaths through early detection and raising awareness and knowledge amongst individuals, family members and communities.
This year, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) has introduced a theme which will be used for three years beginning 2019 to 2021, which is: “I Am and I Will.” (“Saya Akan dan Saya Boleh.”)
This theme empowers individuals to voice their commitments in taking action to overcome cancer. Every Malaysian has the power to reduce the effects of cancer for themselves, their beloved ones and communities.
Currently, cancer is the second highest cause of death among Malaysians. The three most common cancers among men in Malaysia were colorectal (16.4 per cent), lung (15.8 per cent) and nasopharynx (8.1 per cent); whilst the three most common cancers among women were breast (32.1 per cent), colorectal (10.7 per cent) and cervix (7.7 per cent). This is expected to increase in the near future, attributable to the high prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) risk factors and an aging population.
A critical aspect to be highlighted in cancer prevention and control is the importance of early detection. It is estimated that 60 per cent of cancers in Malaysia is detected at late stages (Stages III and IV). Among the main contributing factors for late detection is the lack of awareness on the importance of screening and early detection amongst Malaysians.
The Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) provides screening for four types of cancers, namely breast, cervical, colorectal and oral cancer at government health clinics nationwide. Screening for specific cancers such as liver, prostate and nasopharynx for high-risk individuals are available at MOH hospitals.
Skim Peduli Sihat for the B40 group (PeKa B40 scheme) which will be implemented in March provides health screening services, medical aid, incentives for cancer treatment and transportation fare support. While the mySalam National Protection Scheme was introduced to help the B40 proup by providing medical protection in the form of financial assistance in the event of an emergency or 36 critical illnesses, which also include cancer. The government has introduced both schemes to expand access to essential health services, reduce the cost of treatment and improve the quality of life of the B40 group.
Let us all jointly work hand in hand towards increasing awareness and knowledge on the importance of screening and recognising the early signs and symptoms of cancer. We need to dispel myths, false information and misunderstanding among Malaysians who are reluctant to undergo screening or those who choose to delay early treatment, and rely on therapies and treatment which have yet to been proven effective.
On the occasion of World Cancer Day 2019, various activities have been planned by the MOH, non-governmental organisations, associations and cancer patients’ support groups to be held nationwide and at all levels. It is the responsibility of each and every one to play their part to reduce the burden of cancer in the country.
Click here to view the Cancer Factsheet 2019: http://mrem.bernama.com/pdf/Cancer%20Factsheet%202019,%20FINAL-compressed.pdf
* Press statement by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.