Paul Farmer, an iconic figure in publicizing public health problems in developing nations, has now joined a campaign to highlight the issue of cancer in Latin America, Africa and other areas where treatment of this chronic illness is often lacking. As he outlines in this interview with journalist Mary Carmichael, Farmer has devised an innovative approach to compensating for the lack of high-tech treatments in countries like Haiti. He has organized the provisioning of pro bono donations of medicines and diagnostics from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both institutions affiliated with Harvard Medical School where Farmer holds an appointment. As a supplement to Not Just an Illness of the Rich in the March issue, a listing of resources on cancer in the developing world follows.
1. Global Cancer Facts and Figures, 2nd Edition, a report released in 2011 by The American Cancer Society, notes that cancers related to changing lifestyles as nations become wealthier, including lung, breast, and colorectal tumors, continue to rise in the developing world
2. “The Burden of Cancer in Developing Countries: A Global Health Council Report on the Cancer Advocacy and Learning Institute,” published in June of 2010, documents both the incidence of the disease and a set of policy solutions.
3. In 2008, The New England Journal of Medicine ran a “Perspectives” article, “’Westernizing’ Women’s Risks? Breast Cancer in Lower-Income Countries,” which describes the growing burden.
4. In 2007, The New England Journal of Medicine featured another “Perspectives” that laid out the challenges of introducing the human papilloma virus vaccine in developing countries, a preventive for cervical cancer.
5. “A Silent Crisis: Cancer Treatment in Developing Countries” Is a 2003 report from the International Atomic Energy Agency addresses the challenges of providing sufficient infrastructure— in particular, trained staff to deliver safe and effective radiation doses—for cancer treatment.
6. The World Health Organization provides country-by-country projections of mortality and incidence of cancer: