This past summer, on the heels of the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, the Global Health Council released the report, “The Burden of Cancer in Developing Countries: A Global Health Council Report on the Cancer Advocacy and Learning Institute.” Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, and the burden of disease is expected to double by 2020. More than 70 percent of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where multiple factors, including limited screening and treatment services, make people more vulnerable to the disease.
In response to this growing problem, the Global Health Council established the Cancer Control Advocacy and Learning Initiative, a project to raise awareness about the burden of cancer in developing countries and to develop policy, advocacy and research agendas to guide the global health community’s work on this topic. The Initiative included a critical review of the peer-reviewed literature on cancers associated with reproductive health and with infectious diseases; focus groups with CEOs, academic leaders, and program implementers; an online survey with 174 respondents; working group meetings with community partners; and a panel discussion on the burden of cancer in developing countries. The report provides an overview of these activities, and makes several recommendations for future policy, advocacy, and research activities. As we look towards the United Nations High Level Session on noncommunicable diseases this upcoming September, the Initiative and subsequent report help to illuminate some of the most important issues surrounding this particular NCD.