World Cancer Day: Time to reflect on What We, You, I Can Do?


World Cancer Day is the International Day (WCD) marked annually, on February 4th to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection and treatment. This day is meant to urge you and me to reflect and ask: "What Action Can We, You, and I take against Cancer?"

World Cancer Day Initiative was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and supports of the goals of the World Cancer Declarations written in 2008 with the goal to significantly reduce cancer deaths by 2020.

The aim of World Cancer Day is to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer and insisting that governments and individuals across the world recognize and own the burden of cancer and take action against it. UICC’s Tagline: WE CAN, I CAN, urges everyone, collectively or individually to do our part. We know that there are many cancers and just as cancer affects people in different ways, believe me as a survivor, I know for sure that we all have the power to take various actions to at least reduce the impact that cancer has on individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole.

The return on the investment of the World Cancer Day is powerfully projected by this quote: “On World Cancer Day, we have an opportunity to collectively examine cancer control strategies to identify winning formulas that will accelerate progress. The goal for us is to ensure fewer people develop cancer, more people are successfully treated and that there is a better quality of life for people during treatment and beyond.” – Heather Bryant VP Cancer Control Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

This means that in Rwanda and East Africa, that we really don’t have to reinvent the wheel, winning formulas are there for grabs and guidelines are already in place, we might just have to modify here and there to suit our unique cultural needs. However, implicitly implied by this initiative are two prerequisite ingredients: Awareness and Education about cancer are of prime importance.

In 2008, there were 7.8 million cancer deaths, and 12.7 million cancer cases.

The global cancer burden is projected to increase by 75% by 2030 unless urgent interventional strategies are put in place and the projected increase in cancer is likely to hit low income countries that are least equipped like Rwanda.

Evidence-based studies support our African proverb: “The enemy you know can’t kill you” which underscores the importance of awareness. UICC acts as a catalyst for those in cancer field by providing impactful messages and tools that are effectively utilized to raise public awareness not just for that one day, but adopted throughout the year.

In Rwanda, East Africa and the entire continent, cancer is heavily clouded by ignorance, misinformation, myths, silence and stigma which are associated with delayed diagnosis and preventable death.

This year, World Cancer Day will offer us a powerful unifying, public platform this also supports and validates cancer awareness efforts on various levels across the globe with one code.

It is very encouraging to see the strides already being taken to address the burden of cancer in Rwanda. Awareness and Education campaigns are gaining momentum.

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), NCD, Institute of Prevention and Control HVI/AIDS, BCIEA Inc. and many other NGOs will express this will with an exciting World Cancer Day Agenda that starts on Monday January 30, – February 3rd, 2017 with Multi Media Diffusion of awareness messages via TV, RADIO, Posters and Banners.

On February 4, 2017 there will be a Press conference in preparation for WCD Public Cancer Awareness Walk on Sunday, February 5, 2017 that nobody should miss. Just in case you are wondering, from all this, what is in it for me? UICC TAGLINE has it all for you and it’s up to choose where you belong?



  • Inspire action, take action
  • Prevent cancer
  • Create healthy schools
  • Create healthy workplaces
  • Create healthy cities
  • Support others to return to work
  • Challenge perceptions
  • Improve access to cancer care
  • Shape policy change
  • Build a quality workforce
  • Make a case for investing in cancer control
  • Join forces to make a difference



  • Make healthy lifestyle choices
  • Understand that early detection saves lives
  • Ask for support
  • Return to work
  • Take control of my cancer journey
  • Love and be loved
  • Make my voice be heard

Reflections by Philippa Kibugu-Decuir, breast cancer survivor, founder of Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA Inc.)