Paul Lachine

Les tropiques du cancer ?

STANFORD – Le cancer est souvent considéré comme une maladie des pays riches. Pourtant, il constitue également dans les pays pauvres une cause majeure de mortalité. En effet, d’ici la fin de cette décennie, près de 150 millions de personnes à travers le monde seront atteintes d’un cancer, parmi lesquelles environ 60% issues des pays en voie de développement.

Bien que, malheureusement, moins nombreux soient les habitants des pays du Sud à vivre jusqu’aux âges les plus concernés par le cancer, la malnutrition et l’exposition à des environnements envahis par les virus et les toxines, associées à un manque de possibilités de diagnostic et de traitement, contribuent à accroître l’apparition et la létalité des cancers. Dans les pays pauvres, de nombreuses personnes décèdent des suites de cancers qu’il est pourtant possible de prévenir et de traiter dans les pays les plus riches, mais il arrive tout aussi fréquemment qu’elles succombent à d’autres fléaux comme les maladies infectieuses. Comment endiguer une telle catastrophe ?

Margaret Chan, directeur général de l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé, et Yukiya Amano, directeur général de l’Agence Internationale de l’Énergie Atomique (AIEA) ont constaté dans un article récent que la plupart des systèmes de santé des pays en voie de développement étaient conçus pour faire face aux maladies infectieuses plutôt qu’aux cancers. Je reconnais qu’il s’agit là d’une stratégie rationnelle, étant donné le lourd tribut que représentent ces infections, et le fait qu’elles puissent être prévenues et traitées à un coût relativement modeste.

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