BUENOS AIRES – Deaths from cancer, which is already the No. 2 cause of death in Latin America, will increase in the region by 106 percent by 2030 if no significant changes in health policy are made, according to a report prepared by the intelligence unit of The Economist magazine.
“These results obligate us to have a common vision for confronting the challenge, given that there are many health priorities in the region and resources are limited,” said Irene Mia, the author of the report and global editorial director the British weekly magazine’s thought leadership division.
The report was presented at Roche Press Day, a forum being held in Buenos Aires to exchange views on the latest medical advances in the region and which ends on Thursday.
In preparing the report, the available data from 12 countries was examined, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina.
The report says that between 60-70 percent of cancer patients in the region are diagnosed only in the later stages of the disease.
It also says that each year a million new cases of cancer are detected and almost 70 percent of the deaths from the disease occur in the middle and lower income strata, a situation reflecting the inequalities in the region.
In general, the countries in the region have less access to the latest medications to treat cancer. Only Chile has regular access to the most advanced drugs to deal with lung cancer, for instance.
In addition, just two nations – Chile and Uruguay – have enough radiation therapy equipment to treat all their patients.
According to Mia, a “multifaceted solution” is required to be able to get cancer onto “the agenda of the governments” in the region.
The region, the report says, is in an economic growth phase and rising health expectations, which has changed the profile of many illnesses.
The region is transitioning from deaths due to epidemiological causes to cardiovascular problems and cancer, the report says, adding that there is more risk in Latin America for breast and prostate cancer but a decline in liver and stomach cancer.
An average of 4.6 percent of GDP is invested in disease control in Latin American nations, while the average investment in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is 7.7 percent.