WHO: COVID-19 causes a crisis of non-communicable diseases, including cancer

WHO: COVID-19 causes a crisis of non-communicable diseases, including cancer

“COVID-19 poses multiple threats. One we cannot afford to ignore is an epidemic of cancer,” said Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

“Ensuring continuity of cancer care while fighting COVID-19 has been hugely challenging for countries across the WHO European Region, a continent that accounts for approximately one-third of all reported COVID-19 cases and deaths to date – that is more than 750 000 lost lives,” Kluge stated.

“In a normal year, cancer kills close to 2.2 million people in the Region: a far-too-heavy toll when we know that these deaths could have been prevented.”

Kluge said: “Early on in the pandemic, WHO found that globally, in 122 out of 163 countries, noncommunicable disease services had been disrupted and that 1 in 3 countries in the European Region had partially or completely disrupted cancer services.”

He noted that at the Kyrgyzstan National Center of Oncology, the number of cancers diagnosed in April last year had dropped by 90%, while in the Netherlands and Belgium in the first lockdown of 2020, it had dropped by 30–40%.

“Delayed diagnosis and treatment in the United Kingdom are expected to result in an increase in the number of deaths from colorectal cancer by 15%, and 9% for breast cancer over the next 5 years,” he added.

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