Equitable access to cancer care and treatment, a major health challenge in Latin America


Equitable access to cancer care and treatment, a major health challenge in Latin America

Cristóbal Thompson
Executive Director
Mexican Association of Pharmaceutical Research Industries (AMIIF)

To talk about health is to refer to one of the primary needs of human beings and a key factor for the productivity of nations and the well-being of individuals and families. Health is an opportunity and a challenge that we share in Latin America, especially when it comes to life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

According to a Globocan registry, in Latin America and the Caribbean we have an estimated total of 1.5 million new cases of cancer and 700,000 deaths annually. [1]

While it is true that thanks to pharmaceutical innovation patients have significantly increased their life expectancy and quality of life, the challenge we share in the region is for people to have access to innovation when they need it, in an equitable manner in all countries.

For this reason, during the Innovation Week 2023, which AMIIF carried out together with FIFARMA, we held the panel "Overcoming Challenges in Cancer Care", with the participation of representatives of civil organizations from Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia.

Shared challenges and solutions

In Latin America, the lack of communication and collaboration, as well as the fragmentation of health systems, are some of the barriers that impede continuity of care for patients, who do not reach the specialist in a timely manner.

In the specific case of Mexico, we face challenges such as the late detection of cancer; around 70-80 percent of all types of cancer are diagnosed in advanced stages, which makes treatment more costly and decreases the patients' expectation of recovery.

In addition, political volatility also affects the approach to cancer and has repercussions on the lack of continuity in public policies aimed at cancer care. For this reason, it is important to support regulatory frameworks or legislation that guarantees the survival of programs and plans for the care of these conditions.

According to the experts, other important challenges facing the region in terms of cancer care are inequity, the lack of accurate information to confirm results and therefore achieve accurate diagnoses, as well as the quality of the processes.

One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to reduce mortality through comprehensive and universal public policies. If we consider that 33% of mortality is due to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, we are challenged to have robust plans for the care of this disease. In Mexico, for example, we need a National Plan to bridge the gap between patients' needs and the care they receive.

Through awareness raising we must work as a region to achieve early diagnosis and reduce treatment prescription times.

In our region, the use of laws as effective, sustainable, and practically irreversible tools for the control of this disease and the reduction of mortality is a priority. Likewise, sharing information on best practices in the region will lead us to close a virtuous circle of collaboration, where the patient is at the center of all efforts.

[1] Trends in cancer epidemiology in Latin America and the Caribbean. Globocan 2020 data. https://www.fundacionfemeba.org.ar/blog/farmacologia-7/post/tendencias-de-la-epidemiologia-del-cancer-en-america-latina-y-el-caribe-50191



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