Feb. 4, 2016

World Cancer Day 2016: ‘We can. I can.’

WCD16_Poster EN

World Cancer Day is marked on February 4, by the World Health Organization (WHO), to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.

For people with disabilities who have cancer, prevention and treatment is often more difficult because of their disability.

People with disabilities have the same general health care needs as other people but are three times more likely to be denied health care and four times more likely to be treated badly in the health care system.

DAWN Canada’s community development initiative OUR HEALTH MATTERS, confirms that women experience physical and verbal abuse, bullying and neglect in seeking health care services. Women with disabilities and Deaf women identified various barriers to receiving services, including lack of access to American Sign Language (ASL) video or interpreters and lack of communication supports for women who are non-verbal. They also said that accessible, flexible and affordable transportation is a huge barrier.

In order for health care services to be accessible to women with disabilities and Deaf women, there must be a commitment to addressing systemic change and a strong focus on educating both health care providers and women with disabilities.

Service providers need to begin with understanding that they are addressing a systemic problem that includes outreach first, then intake protocols. As well, they need to address not just the physical barriers (architectural, equipment, materials), but also the ones that are embedded in attitudes. Organizations providing service need to look at the staffing and hiring policies and create change in the organization’s culture from within!

Women with disabilities and Deaf women can also be supported be advocates for themselves when seeking services. They should know that they can ask for a longer appointment time if needed, and that they can discuss their accessibility needs with the clinic prior to going for their appointment. As well, they can seek out service providers who have the expertise and sensitivity to respond to their specific health needs.

The slogan of World Cancer Day 2016 is ‘We can. I can.’

It is a chance to reflect on what you can do to reduce the effects of cancer.

Whatever you choose to do ‘#WecanIcan.’ make a difference to the fight against cancer!