Washington (BWA)--World Cancer Day is marked on February 4, supported by the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations in order to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its detection, treatment, and prevention.
The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is consistent in its commitment to working for improved health. Specific resolutions were produced at many of BWA's various meetings, including 1982 in Nairobi, Kenya; 1994 in Uppsala, Sweden; 1998 in Durban, South Africa; 2003 in Swanwick, England; and 2010 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. By these resolutions, the BWA encourages Baptists to work for access to health education and health care for all people.
In addition, the BWA, through Baptist World Aid, has donated funds on a regular basis for health promotion, education, prevention and treatment.
In 2000, major health organizations convened the World Summit Against Cancer of the New Millennium in Paris, France. The summit's concluding Charter of Paris outlined 10 articles calling for an "invincible alliance...between researchers, healthcare professionals, patients, government, industry and media," to fight cancer. The Charter of Paris endorsers chose February 4 as an annual awareness day.
Each year, more than 12 million people worldwide receive a cancer diagnosis and 7.6 million die of the disease. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2020, there may be as many as 20 million new cases of cancer each year. Seventy percent of these patients will live in countries that between them will have less than five percent of the resources for cancer control.
The Charter of Paris warns that cancer will continue to become an increasingly important contributor to the global burden of disease, despite the fact that many cancers are preventable through control of tobacco use, diet, infection and pollution. It is estimated, for instance, that infections - many potentially preventable - cause 15 percent of cancers worldwide and 22 percent of cancers in the developing world.
World Cancer Day is meant to encourage public policies that support the fight against cancer and urge prevention measures that can stem the rising tide of the disease by implementing tobacco control, diet modification, infection control and environmental protection.
Among the determinations outlined by the Charter of Paris is the discrepancy between survival outcomes among the various places of the world. These discrepancies are noted not just between countries, but even between health institutions in the same cities. Wide variations in care - both access to care and standards of care - are considered a major cause of concern.
The parties endorsing the Charter of Paris affirmed that every individual has the right to a standard of living adequate for "the health and well-being of himself and his family, including...medical care." The parties then committed to promote quality cancer care for all, whether that should be education, prevention, treatment, or end of life care with dignity.
Already, a number of BWA member bodies and other Baptist institutions are committed to the prevention and treatment of cancer and other diseases, and the care of those who are terminally affected. We affirm these efforts, even as we lift them up as examples for all Baptists everywhere. It is also our hope that Baptists will set good examples by adopting lifestyle choices that will minimize, or perhaps, even prevent, the scourge of cancer.