Cancer is one of the leading public health disasters in Congo that causes massive deaths in adults. In the sub-Saharan countries, up to seventy per cent of the assumed twenty-four million people are diagnosed with cancer, although the burden impacts the whole world. Today, twenty million people are diagnosed with cancer as; each year, another ten million cases occur. In Congo, cancer care is rapidly becoming an issue, and the mortality from cancer is very profound. The previously considered rare diseases of high-income countries, such as breast, colon and lung cancer, are now frequently diagnosed in Congo. The rates of affected patients have raised dues to increases in physical inactivity, smoking, excess body weight and diet. The survival rate of patients with Cancer in Congo is often less than half of the developed countries.
The epidemiology of Cancer diseases in Congo
Epidemiology of Cancer is the study of factors affecting cancer and its causes. The causes of Cancer in Congo are mainly associated with lifestyle. Currently, in the democratic republic of Congo, the risk factors for the emergence of chronic non-communicable diseases such as cancer, which give an epidemic appearance, are anarchical urbanization, changes in lifestyle and food transition (Matheiu,2021). The implicated factors are alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, sedentary lifestyle, reproductive life and less healthy diet. While Congo often has high rates of cancers associated with infectious diseases, risk factors and physical inactivity increase is visible in developing countries.
Changes from economic development and globalization lead to adoption of these unhealthy diets, lifestyles and behavioral risks in Congo. Additionally, the world’s population is ageing, increasing the pool of those more susceptible to cancer (Marchal,2014). The lack of epidemiological transition between communicable and non-communicable diseases in developing countries is at the origin of an awakening of consciousness. It justifies the development of effective prevention strategies. These require reliable advanced surveys to indicate the primary levels and risk factors specific to each environment, with a view of targeted reactions.
Current responses to cancer at the medical and (governmental and non-governmental) political/societal level
Government, be it national, state, provincial, the union of nations, or even local, has clear roles in cancer control. It has a World Health Organization that has put forth several initiatives that are considered milestones to deal with public health diseases, including cancer. The initiatives include global strategies on physical activity and diet, a major international treaty on tobacco, cervical cancer, and reproductive health strategies (Mahler,2016). The government’s mission to create a healthy culture and prevent cancer is a fundamental goal beyond traditional health-focused departments such as health ministries.
It is in the domain of governmental agencies involved in occupational safety, environmental protection and transportation—health promotion and cancer prevention. The government has funded the research on causes, treatment of cancer and how to control cancer. The study shows the importance of an encouraging environment to adopt healthy behaviours. Through education, regulations, and support programs, governments can create an environment in which there is a reduction in tobacco usage, and citizens maintain good levels of physical activity, healthy body weight, and good nutrition.
Some non-governmental organizations have helped in cost-sharing in cancer health care in Congo (Kayembe,1999). They manage health programs to aid cancer patients or at least sustain or manage a deteriorating health system. Some of the approaches made by the non-governmental organizations in Congo include increased access to health care services, educating people about cancer prevention, causes and management, and distribution of medicines that can help reduce pain in people undergoing cancer treatment.
Health and Societal Impact of Cancer in Congo
The family of the patients dominates the societal impact of Cancer in Congo. Together with their families, patients with cancer often experience an increased need for social support, which is empirically related to influencing health outcomes. Cancer affects society physically, emotionally and financially (Fidele,2022). The financial burden of cancer affects society since it is not cheap, and the community, especially the family, are required to pay for the medical bills. The physical impact includes the pain and fatigue that a patient encounters due to the cancer treatment forcing them to withdraw from society and work. The emotional impact of cancer results from various reasons, including; the stress of the disease, family and friend’s worry and concern, and the pressure from paying the costly medical bills. The emotional stress, therefore, causes massive anxiety to the patient.
The health impact of cancer is premature death and reduced quality of life. Cancer causes loss of function and pain in parts of the body due to the pressing of the nearby nerves. Brain cancer can cause stroke-like symptoms and headache that impacts one side of the body due to high radiation to the brain (Sulu,2022). These reactions, among other diseases, have accelerated the country’s death rate. Patients’ low quality of life caused by cancer can cause low expectancy levels, low natality rates, and high mortality rates, a loss to the country.
Strategies to improve the country’s response to cancer
Several ways can improve the country’s response to cancer, including; Training of health professionals and all staff in the management and control of cancer. Since it is noticeable that the specialists currently conducting the cancer survey and general surgeons lack desiccated training in oncology, training them will be a significant improvement in the cancer section. The next strategy is to develop structures that adapt to cancer management (Trefon,2004). A cost-effective and more frequent use of the private radiotherapy facility will be a productive move because the machine treats five hundred patients annually. Also, creating an agreement between the facility and the ministry of health would help optimize the radiotherapy unit usage.
Thirdly, mobilize financial resources to ensure more than twenty-five thousand patients that require cancer treatments are treated. The mobilization would be by making radiotherapy, medical equipment and machines progressively available through infrastructure and providing proper maintenance and care delivery to patients (Tabiri,2019). Fourth is planning Information campaigns aimed at the general public. Educating the public will be helpful since it will create awareness of the disease, the causes, the prevention and the management. Lastly, access to anti-cancer drugs, perhaps in the anti-retroviral model for HIV and decentralizing cancer diagnosis and treatment capabilities. The decentralization will provide better access to cancer care for most people in the province and strengthen the capacity of the National Centre to fight against cancer.
Potential barriers to implementation of the proposed interventions
One of the barriers to implementation is the vast territory of the democratic republic of Congo. Delivering services to diagnose and treat cancer patients across Congo, which has a population of approximately ninety million people, will be a problem for the government. Most treatment and diagnosis services are only available in the capital city’s private facilities, making it hard for people across the country to access the diagnostic services (Akinyemiju,2012). The next challenge is the lack of resources. There is only one private radiotherapy facility in the democratic republic of Congo that provides radiotherapy.
Considering the vast population of Congo, the one facility is inaccessible and inadequate for the country to improve cancer responses. The third challenge is the lack of reliable epidemiological data. Concerning cancer control, precise epidemiological data and a cancer registry are fundamental. It is difficult to measure the amplitude of the disease at a national level or plan for access to radiotherapy, medicine and other treatments without the registry. Fourth challenge is the lack of an established cancer centre. Other developed countries have constructed cancer centres with all facilities, forcing patients in Congo who have financial means to go abroad for treatment.
The lack of qualified and well-trained medical personnel as well as appropriate equipment is the primary cause of the late diagonalization of patients in Congo. The late diagonalization lowers their survival rate and increases the level of needed palliative care, which is also inadequate. Lastly is the issue of communication barriers in the culture (Mulumba,2014). The patients find challenges in the talk about palliative care because they can not accept the term death. They would prefer patient support, which is hopeful for them but has no cure, resulting in death.
In conclusion, apart from the wars in Congo, Cancer is the most dangerous challenge to public health in the democratic republic of Congo. By amending some initiatives, the rates of patients affected by the disease will reduce, significantly impacting the population mass of Congo and the country’s economic, social, and health factors. The primary factor that can assist in that is; putting down prevention measures and educating all the country’s citizens. This will help because prevention is, after all, better and more manageable than cure.
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