The second decade in our country is not a long-term path, unchanging strategy, aimed at reducing the social and societal burden of cancer
Evgenia Alexandrova is a long-time patient advocate and consultant in the field of oncological diseases. After successful treatment of breast cancer based in 2004 r. Association of Cancer Patients (APOZ), of which he is chairman to this day. APOZ is an organization, whose core values are entirely related to patient well-being, and its activities are dedicated to expanding the framework of care for them. The organization enriches its experience by membership in many authoritative international networks, including the UICC, ECPC, Europe Woman, Europe Man, INCA, Europa Colon et al., striving to transfer and introduce useful practices in Bulgaria. Alexandrova is a certified patient consultant, national representative of the European Coalition Against Breast Cancer EUROPA DONNA and contact person for “Cancer mission” of the framework program “Horizon Europe 2021 – 2027”. Author and co-author of numerous publications and printed publications useful for patients. She has been awarded many prestigious prizes for her work, among which “Woman of the year”, “Golden Heart” and 50th place in the ranking of c. “Capital” for the 100 most influential women in Bulgaria.
Twenty years ago in a civilized, not very distant country a young woman, who was born elsewhere (we), but she lived there and created art, with the benefit of which it was known, she suddenly became ill with cancer. She wasn't even at risk, nor did she live in a risky environment, but the disease struck her, and in spite of her care and efforts the young woman fell victim to cancer. Only a few months later this country, which even then had a streamlined program for prevention and early detection of cancer, changed its own criteria and significantly reduced age, considered risky, to increase the effectiveness of its program to prevent the serious consequences of cancer.
At the same time, cancer was openly discussed in Bulgaria for the first time for people with this diagnosis, for the difficulties, facing, for their desire for life, sharply contrasting with the possibilities, which the state then provided them. And the first reactions of our politicians to any mention of the word cancer were measured by the sharp knocking of a tree under the table of the Speaker of Parliament., which the sound system made deafening to those present.
Out there, in those years, the bitter refrain was born, that being treated for cancer in Bulgaria is a hardship and a torment… To this day, in most cases, the topic of cancer sounds public in our country, generally, in this style – emotionally dramatic and with a touch of personal heroism, for every winning story. Somehow in the background and unconvincing are the otherwise energetic changes in access to more modern treatment, more modern medical equipment, the improved material base in the specialized hospitals for cancer treatment, increasing their number almost doubled. Even data on improved survival with improved quality of life in cancer patients fail to change the picture. You will say, why? It's simple.
If people, defeated the disease, have their triumph, then, although he pays the whole bill, society is still swallowing.
The unpromising health policy “per piece” with regard to cancer
That weighs! And it leaves no room for trust in the state and faith, that the life of the common man matters.
The second decade in our country is not a long-term path, immutable as a priority, strategy or program, or politics, aimed at reducing the social and societal burden of cancer. To organize all the steps and ensure the best care, providing specialists with conditions to work to the highest standards. These circumstances poison all hope and confidence, that cancer is victorious in our country.
More than 10 years ago, Europe launched the idea of National Cancer Plans and vigorously supported it financially. Creates models and recommends good practices. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization systematically warns of avalanche-like increase in cancer incidence. World economic thought is constantly looking for solutions on how to strike a balance between the benefits of the achievements of modern medical science and rising public spending., without losing focus on the value of human life. During this time, the institutions in our country do not stop submitting to Europe information about non-existent measures against cancer and to repeat on the national air
How much public resources are spent on cancer treatment, attributing guilt to society, but stubbornly do not pay attention to the big holes, which ruin any effort – threateningly thinning specialists, the ever-changing absurd conditions, in which they work, the lack of any serious idea of organized prevention. They do not open a word about the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as a health policy, for pooling the available resources in the health system around anti-cancer actions and policies – all steps, which many countries are successfully implementing, determined to protect their population.
If there is any use in acknowledging the obvious – namely, that cancer is not seriously in the priorities of Bulgarian politicians
although from time to time they give way to some innovative solution – it is to realize, that time to waste, to hide the heads in the sand, to click with the tongue and knock on wood leaked. Long ago and irrevocably! Europe has unequivocally created a European anti-cancer plan and it is only a matter of time before it is imposed in one way or another as an inalienable requirement for every Member State.. At the same time, Bulgaria is writing national health strategies and recovery plans, in which there is no word on planned anti-cancer policies. Obviously, nothing in the political vision of today's Bulgarian rulers has changed. And instead of being satisfied again with the position of third-class Europeans with dubious public values, it is time to give the floor to the experts, who, betting his own conscience, professionalism and humanitarian duty, to create the rules of a well-thought-out and expertly determined National Cancer Plan. It is time for the institutions to recognize the real authorities and together with them to create and observe anti-cancer policies, guaranteeing the life and health of the nation.
It is time to combine social and health policies in that symbiosis, which will erase deep-rooted public understanding, that being ill with cancer in Bulgaria is unequivocally painful and humiliating. Today, into the XXI century. Unacceptable!
It is also time for our society, to the last citizen, to realize, that it plays a significant role in choosing how we live. That you want the good of everyone, it is not a denial of your own well-being, on the contrary! That to oppose the reasonable, it is not a sign of civic position or democracy.
It is time for us all to realize, that living well is our common task, in which there is a subcondition for each of us, which he decides responsibly.
I deliberately told this little-known one at the beginning, but a true story. It is very clear from her, that some twenty years continue to separate us from humanity and social responsibility. The big question before us as a society continues to be whether we are already able to choose politicians, to think like the politicians in that also European country, or we will vote angrily and without reason and open the doors of our country to the people, who, getting cancer, will go for treatment abroad, and we will again accept this as normal.