Cancer control in Latin America

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Published: 22 Nov 2022
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Adolfo Dammert - Liga Contra el Cáncer, Pueblo Libre, Perú

Adolfo Dammert speaks to ecancer about cancer control in Latin America.

There are several challenges to cancer prevention and screening in Latin America, the main one being the lack of resources for the early detection of cancer.

Liga Contra el Cáncer is the only non-profit institution in Peru that supports and initiates plans for early detection of cancer in the country.

He says Latin America has many good doctors, but the issue lies with the lack of proper funding and resources.

This issue needs to be addressed.

My mission is to make aware the world about Latin America because we are far away in early detection and with this COVID crisis, I don’t want to mention but that’s terrible, we have no medicines, interrupted treatments, so it’s quite a problem. So we are the biggest institution, or the only institution, non-profit in early detection so we do a hard job to promote the early detection, to force the government to give laws to put into shape all hospitals and to buy new equipment. But this is quite a difficult job, but that’s our mission to make everybody aware about that early detection means life.

I’m a guy with experience on the issue. I got cancer when I was 32 years old but I decided, no, I’m going to fight it, I’m going to keep on with my life. I had my two children were little, five and three years old, so I decided I have to continue, I want to continue. So after my remission when I was free of cancer I decided to devote myself to the cancer issues, the cancer themes. So I work with this Peruvian Cancer League which is we are passionate for life. That’s the sentence: we are passionate for life. So we must promote the early detection because it’s the only way to save lives, plus in Latin America because we are so far away in everything. So check-up some time, remote in check-ups, saving lives, that’s our mission.

What are the current cancer control challenges in Latin America?

There’s a deep difference between private assistance, health assistance, and public health assistance. So if you have an insurance, if you have the income enough, you can get to a good hospital. If you are not, you are almost condemned because the chance of surviving is very low. So what we try to make is make the government aware of what we need, what the Peruvians need or all Latin America, because it’s not a problem of Peru, it’s all Latin America. So what we need is more attention of the government. I know highways and a lot of things are important but early detection, treatment, good hospitals are a must. That’s something we need and we don’t have yet. 

What has been done so far to overcome these challenges in Latin America?

Too little, really too little. We need to do a lot more because this gap between people who can have some treatment and the other ones who cannot is bigger. So what we need is more attention of the government, perhaps more private investment in hospitals, which is difficult and it’s logical. If you invest you need to get a profit, you are not the government, you are not the state. But the main thing is to promote detection, to promote treatments, to have good equipment. Doctors, we have very good doctors, that’s not a problem. The problem is not the personnel, it’s not a medical problem, it’s a hospital problem, it’s an equipment problem, problems that are not easy to solve, perhaps.

What is the impact of global cancer conferences such as WCC?

For me to come to this WCC is very important because I can bring the voice of Latin America, to show what we are, to show what our problems are and to ask for attention. To ask for attention and understand what is going on in the future of cancer. Until now we know that there isn’t any other thing but in early detection so we have to ask for help on early detection, that’s the main thing we have to do.

Anything else to add?

For me it’s very important to come here because I meet with a lot of people, very interesting people. I find very interesting things, opinions and a lot of things to do, and that makes me aware of what can we do in Latin America to progress on this cancer issue which is really difficult.