There are diseases that get transmitted from one person to another and there are diseases that arise due to prolonged periods of poor dietary choices, such as consuming excessive junk food, and unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as sitting in front of a computer screen all day. The latter are classified as noncommunicable diseases.
Some statistics show that 59 out of 100 deaths in Myanmar are caused by noncommunicable diseases. This group of diseases includes hypertension, coronary artery disease, cancer, mental illness, alcoholism, cigarette addiction, drug addiction, diabetes, stroke, chronic lung disease and respiratory diseases, deafness, snake bites, and accidents. Among them, coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic lung disease are the most widespread.
Cancer is prevalent not only in Myanmar, but around the world. Globally, it ranks second in terms of fatalities. In 2018, 18.3 million people around the world were diagnosed with cancer, with the number of deaths reaching 9.6 million. There were 69,554 new cancer cases in Myanmar in 2018, and 51,059 deaths. Statistics show one in every five men and one in every six women have cancer, and 70 per cent of all those who die of cancer are from low-income and middle class families.
Cancer can be caused due to poor lifestyle or it can be hereditary. It can also be caused by air pollution and unhealthy food choices in urban settings. A third of cancer cases can be prevented. Early diagnosis and treatment saves around 3.7 million people every year.
Many developed countries only allow sale of safe and healthy food to citizens. They ban consumables that are harmful to public health outright, and conduct regular checks. As a result, their people are free from cancer and enjoy long, healthy lives. Myanmar may not be a developed country, but it should envisage freedom from all illnesses and offer protection accordingly.
The common citizens are restricted in choosing nutritious and healthy food due to low income, which prompts them to choose cheap, filling, and unhealthy food instead. Consuming such food on a daily basis can lead to the onset of cancer. Vendors need to sell food that is healthy. This will earn them merit and attract good fortune to them.
We urge all stakeholders in the food industry, both from the private and public sectors, to emphasize freedom from cancer and health protection of the public.