Europe cannot ignore the need to continue to treat cancer in spite of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the head of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) European office said on Thursday.
“The impact of the pandemic on cancer in the region is nothing short of catastrophic,’’ Hans Kluge of the Copenhagen-based agency said.
He cited how the pandemic had resulted in the disruption of cancer services and delays in diagnosis and treatment.
A shortage of drugs has been reported as well as a decline in diagnoses, more cancer cases and deaths were therefore predicted.
The WHO Europe chief said that in a normal year, cancer kills close to “2.2 million people in the region.”
The WHO European region groups 53 countries.
According to Mr Kluge, access to treatment and “inequalities in care have increased in the past year’’ in the region.
To reduce the divide, the WHO European regional office on Thursday launched a regional initiative.
The five focus areas were prevention, early detection, access to diagnosis and treatment, palliative care and assembling data.
“Our initial focus is on childhood, cervical and breast cancers,’’ Mr Kluge said.