This article was originally published in Above the Fold on August 15, 2016.
In 1969, America put a man on the Moon, a breathtaking achievement that many said couldn’t be done. The great challenge of our lifetime is putting an end to cancer. This single disease kills an estimated 600,000 people every year. As with the Moon Shot, the nation must come together again, overcome the odds, and achieve the impossible.
In the president’s State of the Union address earlier this year, he proposed the National Cancer Moon Shot—urging everyone in the cancer community to join forces and redouble their efforts to end this terrible disease. The aim is to bring about a decade’s worth of advances in five years. This can only be done by bringing those with an interest in fighting cancer together and collaborating on solutions.
This is where business comes in. Few entities have delivered more innovation and progress than the American business community. The private sector leads research and pioneers lifesaving treatments. In fact, biopharmaceutical research represents the largest share of U.S. private investment in R&D. This investment has led to treatments that have helped drive down the rate of cancer deaths by 23% since its peak in 1991. Today, more than 1,800 new cancer drugs are being developed.
Businesses and organizations can also implement their own cancer-fighting policies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long been dedicated to making cancer a problem of the past. Last year, we were honored to receive the CEO Roundtable on Cancer’s Gold Standard accreditation. To earn this prestigious recognition, an organization must promote wellness among its employees, provide insurance options that enable early cancer detection, support cancer survivors in the workplace, and raise awareness of these initiatives. Likewise, many of our members have been in the trenches fighting this disease for a long time. And many others are eager to help.
We all have a stake in solving this challenge. In addition to the personal toll it takes on so many families, cancer has a dramatic impact on our economy and the country. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that the direct medical costs for cancer in the United States are nearly $90 billion. Meanwhile, 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year. The need for action and results has never been greater.
Americans have always set lofty goals and defied the odds to accomplish them—let’s apply that grit and tenacity to this urgent national challenge. The Chamber urges the next president to continue this fight. We stand ready to help. It is only by working together that the threat of cancer can become a distant memory.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Thomas J. Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.