Early diagnosis is one of the great challenges for Mexico in its battle with cancer. Education, and as a result prevention, are two other key pillars in the fight against a disease that shows no sign of slowing down, Juana Ramírez, CEO and Founder of SOHIN, told the audience at the opening of the fourth edition of the Mexico Health Summit held Thursday at the Sheraton María Isabel Hotel in Mexico City
“Mortality is drastically reduced when cancer is diagnosed early. For example, 75 percent of pediatric cancer diagnosed early has a cure. The challenge, then, is in prevention and early diagnosis,” Ramírez said in her opening presentation. “Between 30 and 50 percent of cancers can be prevented.”
During her presentation, entitled “Prevention and Early Diagnostics: Barriers to Cancer,” Ramírez emphasized the impact that cancer will have on the Mexican economy in the short to medium term, saying that in 2030 one in three Mexicans will be diagnosed with cancer due to lifestyle habits such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, overweight, alcohol consumption or environmental pollution. “It is a real public health problem. It is a problem that will put the economy in check,” she said. “Forty percent of the national health budget in Mexico is dedicated to chronic noncommunicable diseases.”
Ramírez was optimistic about the health policies that may be implemented by the incoming presidential administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Equal access, the creation of a national plan for the prevention and control of cancer, the reduction of risk factors and the training of professionals are some of the points on which, according to Ramírez, the new government must put its focus, especially in a country where “we depend on our socio-economic status and our labor relations to receive treatment.”
Another of Ramírez’s proposals to fight cancer through public policies is “to remove cancer from the clinical and pharmaceutical space to illustrate that it is a social problem that affects us all and that has enormous dimensions. Cancer is not a problem of oncologists but of all health professionals,” she said. “We need better trained general practitioners to improve early diagnosis.” Ramírez also advocated using traditional advertising techniques to spread the message about cancer. “We must compete with Apple or Maluma in the positioning of the message. Health must leave the medical environment and start competing with the advertising messages we see every day. The communication must influence the life habits of the population,” she said.
Finally, Ramírez highlighted the role of women in the global health industry. “Eighty-three percent of the health decisions in the world are made by women and 97 percent of cancer patients in the world are cared for by women. There is a lot to be done in education.”