This year, February 4th, the World Cancer Day is celebrated under the motto “We Can.” I can”. Worldwide, Macedonia is ranked 40th, with a standardized mortality rate of malignant diseases of 239.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. The mortality rate in men is higher (265.6 / 100.000,) while in women is 220.8 / 100.000.
How many of these deaths are the consequence of occupational exposure to carcinogens presented in the workplace? No one knows! It is estimated that in the European Union countries, almost 10% of all deaths from cancer are a consequence of occupational exposure, i.e. have professional etiology. In 2016, there were a total of 3882 deaths due to malignant neoplasms in our country. It means that, about 380 workers died due to a professional carcinoma, or every day 1 worker was the victim of inadequate prevention of professional malignant diseases.
How many workers are exposed to carcinogens in the Republic of Macedonia? No one knows again! The number in the European Union countries is around 20%. Why would it be different for us? Therefore, the presumed number of workers exposed to occupational carcinogens in the workplace in our country is around 150,000, and for all of them it is necessary and legally binding to be informed, appropriately trained and primarily protected.
But who are and where are those workers? The answer is clear – nobody knows! Does anyone in the Republic of Macedonia have technical capacities and competent human resources to identify carcinogens at work, measure their concentration, and assess professional exposure? How many jobs in our country have been proclaimed for jobs at increased risk due to the presence of professional carcinogens? Again a question without an argumentative answer, which would be based on records and systematic monitoring, and not on a declarative statement.
Many questions must be answered as soon as possible, because declarative commitments and statements do not save human lives. It takes a lot more than this day, so once again, we dedicate everyone in their area of work to mobilizing resources for the prevention of professional malignant diseases. If we do that, maybe the next year the message of the World Day Against Cancer will have different content!