World Cancer Day – Empowering Low- and Middle-Income Countries

On 4 February 2017, World Cancer Day returns under the tagline “We can. I can.” World Cancer Day 2016-2018 explores how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.

The cancer burden is felt especially hard in low- and middle-income countries that are unable to offer proper treatment and care. There is still the disparity in the cancer survival. For instance, 66% of people in low- and middle-income countries will not survive their cancer, compared to only 47% in high-income countries.

When cancer struck someone, they normally find themselves devastated and afraid. Surviving cancer in countries that lack the support and care, the word empowerment is not in patients’ dictionaries. But if we could increase the access to treatment and care in these countries, can we turn the tables?

Here at The Max Foundation, we believe access to treatment is access to life. Every day, we work together with our partners to support people living with cancer in countries where cancer still carries stigma and discrimination. But we want to go beyond the cancer treatment, we want to help people thriving with cancer.

I recently learned about Rosario, a cancer patient, and advocate in Mexico. After being diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), she is journeying through cancer with the support from The Max Foundation. Access to life-saving treatment was made possible by our multi-sectoral partnerships with pharmaceutical industry partners, governments, and the health care team.

We have learned through our work that facing cancer is more than treatment alone. We believe uplifting patients is important to ensure patients living well with cancer. Rosario has proven that a cancer patient can step up to becoming an agent of change when given necessary support. Today, she is leading her patient organization named Manitas, which helps children in Mexico face cancer.

“I proudly give others the love and care I have received through The Max Foundation!” 

The world needs more people like Rosario. The word empowerment can be in cancer patients’ dictionaries. Since our founding, collaboration is at the heart of our work. Building a future where every patient can access the best treatment and support requires a comprehensive approach. “We Can. I Can” is not two separate entities. They come together as one.

World Cancer Day brought us an important opportunity to convey our message of inclusiveness. No matter high-income or low- and middle-income countries, facing cancer remains difficult. In order to increase global access to treatment, care, and support for people living with cancer, all of us must work globally.

Waheeda Hasbullah

Waheeda Hasbullah is a Project Executive with the Malaysia team in Kuala Lumpur. She believes every encounter matters and every story unfolds great wisdom for those who believe.