World Cancer Day inspires C/Can cities to stage events to mark 20th anniversary 

As World Cancer Day reaches its 20th anniversary, C/Can cities stage events to mark this historic occasion

Last Tuesday, 4 February, was World Cancer Day, an event that for the last 20 years has been helping to raise awareness around the world about the growing burden of this disease.

This year marks the midway point of UICC’s three-year ‘I Am and I Will’ campaign, an empowering call-to-action urging personal commitment and highlighting how individual action taken now can impact the future. To mark this historic occasion, C/Can’s network of cities staged events aimed at maintaining the momentum we have achieved over the last three years.

At the same time, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank UICC for leading this vital global initiative. As Isabel Mestres, City Cancer Challenge’s Director of Global Public Affairs, noted last week:

“ UICC has played an invaluable role in working toward reimagining a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equal for all, no matter who you are or where you live.”

Here’s a brief roundup of what C/Can cities around the world did on 4 February to mark World Cancer Day, 2020.


Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi officially joined C/Can on February 4, 2019. One year later, stakeholders from the government, academia, the medical community and the private sector gathered in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to discuss progress and next steps for 2020. The focus was on new partnerships and collaborative efforts.

“Today is an opportunity for the city to highlight progress so far in addressing one of the greatest challenges today,” said Dr Zaza Borkua, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health, and Social Affairs.


Kigali, Rwanda

Once again, World Cancer Day was an opportunity for Rwanda to express solidarity with the patients and families affected by cancer and to reduce the stigma associated with the disease, as well as to encourage healthy lifestyles.

Dr Susan Henshall, City Cancer Challenge’s CEO, was in Kigali for the occasion to lead an assessment of city needs and agree a set of targeted responses to cancer. She took the opportunity to express C/Can’s pride at being associated with the range of activities organised in Kigali on 4 February to raise awareness of cancer prevention, along with three official launch events of major importance in the country’s efforts to tackle cancer: Rwanda National Control Plan, the country’s first radiotherapy centre at the Rwanda Military Hospital, and the Rwanda National Cancer Registry.

“Across Kigali, the cancer community is now joining forces to actively work at tackling priority challenges in the fight against cancer,” said Dr. Henshall last week.

Kumasi, Ghana

World Cancer Day celebrations in Kumasi were organised by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, in collaboration with the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and supported by C/Can and Roche Ghana. Activities commenced with a walk with over 500 participants through Kumasi’s Adum business district and ended with a traditional durbar celebration in the KATH Oncology Department. The durbar was chaired by Baafour Ossei Hyeaman Brantuo VI, the King’s representative on the Kumasi C/Can City Executive Committee.

“World Cancer Day is not just a commemorative event; for us in Ghana it is also a way for all the stakeholders in C/Can to show our personal dedication to fighting against the disease,” said Baafour Brantuo.


Cali, Colombia

To commemorate World Cancer Day in Cali, the Regional and Municipal Secretaries of Health, ProPacifico and C/Can hosted a roundtable discussion with the C/Can City Executive Committee and other key stakeholders to discuss plans for 2020. Representatives from healthcare institutions, civil society, insurers, industry, government and the cancer registry, reaffirmed their commitment to the nine C/Can priority projects and to collaborate on other complementary activities.

“C/Can is important for the city, the department and country. This is the first time all sectors are working together, putting aside individual interests, to improve cancer care and focus on patients,” said Dr María Cristina Lesmes, Secretary of Health for the Valle del Cauca.

Asunción, Paraguay

The National Cancer Control Program at INCAN, Paraguay’s National Cancer Institute, organized a series of activities throughout Asuncion to raise awareness about cancer prevention through healthier diets and lifestyles, as well as the importance of early detection and control. Equally, C/Can highlighted the importance of bringing a wide range of stakeholders together to improve access to quality cancer care.

“It is very important for government and institutions to be in close contact with communities and people affected by cancer in the global fight against this disease”, said Dr Silvina Frech, Head of Sustainability at City Cancer Challenge.

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Porto Alegre marked World Cancer Day by encouraging citizens and healthcare professionals to share this year’s theme: “I am and I will” on social networks. A range of events were held to raise awareness about the importance of prevention and early diagnosis. As Maira Caleffi, Chair of C/Can City Executive Committee explains:

“WCD has a new meaning for Porto Alegre this year: working collaboratively to face cancer: we in Porto Alegre love football, and its rival teams have their own stadiums. But on World Cancer Day, that rivalry was replaced by the importance of celebrating the fight against cancer, with events staged in both that attracted huge crowds!”

León, México

León joined C/Can in September, and is currently in the process of mapping and engaging key cancer care stakeholders. Marking Leon’s first World Cancer Day as a C/Can city, Héctor López Santillana said:

“In our city, cancer patients and their families are not alone. Today we commemorate World Cancer Day with the objective of strengthening actions and working together for the prevention, detection and care of this disease, so as to provide a better quality of life for our families. The city’s health department issued a call to action to all stakeholders to “lay the foundations for quality and equitable cancer care for all.”


Yangon and Greater Petaling

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, most of the major events planned for Yangon and Greater Petaling were cancelled or postponed. In Yangon, talks were held on cancer and nutrition, as well as health and safety procedures while carrying out radiotherapy treatment. The Shwe Yaung Hnin Si Cancer Foundation organised a social media campaign to raise awareness of this year’s theme, “I am and I will”, among health workers and patient support groups.

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