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“On World Cancer Day, we urge governments to implement simple, proven, lifesaving policies that can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for people”

February 4, 2021 (New York) – Every year 9.6 million people die from cancer, making it the second leading cause of death worldwide. This does not have to be our reality—nearly half of all cancer cases are preventable. Well established risk factors for cancer, including tobacco use and unhealthy diets, can be mitigated by implementing proven, lifesaving strategies that promote healthy environments and behaviors. But governments need to make that investment.

On World Cancer Day, we urge governments to enact policies that help make the healthy choice the easy choice for people, by making fruits and vegetables more affordable and junk food less accessible, informing consumer decisions with clear warning labels on packaged food, taxing tobacco products and promoting smart city designs that create safer spaces for walking, biking and playing.

With more than 17 million global cancer diagnoses occurring annually, it is also essential for countries to implement – and for policymakers to rely on – timely and accurate cancer data.

Data drives decision making. Through Vital Strategies’ Cancer Registries Program, we’re leading an effort to help countries better capture the burden of cancers and to collaborate with ministries of health to establish and bolster population-based cancer registries. Designed to identify all cases of cancer in a defined population, this data is critical to informing public health policy decisions and strategies for prevention, early detection, and care.

The global pandemic has interrupted essential health services and affected both health-seeking behaviors and cancer care, which is undoubtedly leading to cancers going undetected, a common trend worldwide right now. At this pivotal moment, governments must strengthen public health systems to accomplish what they are intended to do – to expound the patterns of cancer, work across sectors from urban planning to food policy, and prioritize prevention to reduce the number of people affected by this deadly disease.

Vital Strategies’ Cancer Registries Program is a component of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative.

To learn more about Vital Strategies’ Data for Health Initiative, please visit and follow us on Twitter @VitalStrat.

About José Luis Castro

José Luis Castro is the President & CEO of Vital Strategies, where he has led a rapid expansion of Vital Strategies’ portfolio, working with governments to tackle the world’s leading killers, primarily in low-and middle-income countries. The organization now reaches into 73 countries and has touched the lives of more than 2 billion people.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in more than 70

countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.