Increasing disease awareness to improve access to healthcare

Awareness is essential for prevention, early detection, targeted therapy and is key to ensuring effective treatment. Being aware of a disease and its symptoms means people are more likely to take preventative action, and go for screenings, tests and check-ups. A lack of awareness of diseases or knowledge of options for screening and treatment is a serious barrier to good health. It can often mean the difference between life and death, particularly with a disease like cancer.

Causes for lack of awareness

Lack of awareness can be for a number of reasons: the absence, inaccessibility or inaccuracy of information; or even cultural taboos, myths and fear, which can stop people from taking preventative action or seeing healthcare workers.

For example, one out of four people in Africa believes that cancer has no cure and onlyaware of pancreatic cancer symptoms. As a result, people often come to healthcare facilities when their disease has worsened or reached a more advanced stage, potentially resulting in lower chance of effective treatment.

Lack of awareness is a global challenge: it is estimated that aroundare not diagnosed until the disease is in the late stage, when treatment options are very limited. This is especially tragic for a disease such asper year while tools are within reach to eliminate it, based on the WHO’s global strategy centered around Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, screening, and treatment.

How we’re working to increase awareness

We are building partnerships with patient groups, hospitals and health organisations around the world to increase awareness of diseases such as cancers, hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV, HPV, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We are also using digital solutions to help with remote diagnosis and train healthcare workers virtually, which is particularly valuable in regions with limited pathology services.

We support local community partners to run screening, awareness and counselling programmes, and help to empower people with the knowledge to safeguard and manage their own health. Our websites and newsletters aim to give clear, transparent and relevant information about diseases and the different solutions available to healthcare professionals, caregivers and patients help empower people to seek the care they need.

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