• Saaliha Bilal

Close the Care Gap

World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4 February every year, to prevent millions of deaths each year by raising awareness of the disease, and in turn increasing rates of prevention, early detection, and treatment. It also aims to press governments and individuals worldwide to take action against cancer.

The new theme for World Cancer Day from 2022 through 2024 is “Close the Care Gap.”

The recent themes for World Cancer Day have been multi-year campaigns. This means more exposure, more engagement, and more opportunities to build global awareness, and ultimately more impact.

What does the “gap” refer to?

Starting from the basics, equity means giving everyone the required opportunities and means to reach a certain level. It can be considered to be different from equality.

The care gap, or equity gap, refers to the lack of resources, facilities, and health services only for a particular section of the population. This discrimination takes place due to differences in gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, creed, language, etc. Cancer patients belonging to these sections of society are denied basic care and are forced to face economic problems, prejudiced staff, and stereotypes, in addition to the physical pain and mental stress that cancer imposes.

A few statistics to assess the situation at hand:

  • For white women in the US, the five-year survival rate for cervical cancer is 71%. For black women, the rate is just 58%.

  • In New Zealand, Māori people are twice as likely to die from cancer as non-Māori.

  • Childhood cancer survival rates are over 80% in high-income countries but as low as 20% in low-income countries.

  • More than 90% of cervical cancer mortality occurs in low and middle-income countries.

  • Out of 10 million yearly cancer deaths, around 70% are aged 65 or older. Yet, older populations face disproportionate barriers to effective treatment.

  • In refugee populations, cancer is more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, leading to worse outcomes.

  • Due to discrimination from healthcare practitioners, cancer screening among transgender people is lower than in the rest of the population.


  • In Nigeria, the Sebeccly Cancer Care and Support Center helped patients navigate and access earlier cancer diagnosis and treatment with the launch of the digital tool Oncopadi.

  • In Canada, several organizations collaborated across sectors on a series of measures aimed at closing the gap in healthcare for indigenous populations.

  • Around the world, governments raised USD 8.817 billion in 2021 for Gavi, a global health partnership, to provide 84 million girls in low-resourced regions with HPV vaccinations to protect them from cervical cancer.


An equitable world that this campaign aspires to achieve is one in which it is recognized that one size doesn't fit all.

A world in which the stage when cancer is detected, or the mortality rate of an individual doesn't depend on their socially determined circumstances.



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