2022 Int’l Cancer Week: Cancer Death Rates To Increase Significantly In Africa – WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of an unprecedented rise in cancer death rates in Africa if drastic measures are not instituted.

The International Public Health Agency said that Africa records around 1.1 million new cases of cancer annually, resulting in up to 700,000 deaths.

WHO Country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo expressed this concern in his Talking Points to mark the 2022 International Cancer Week from 1st to 4th November. with the theme “Bridging the Cancer Care Gap: Improving Diagnosis and Multidisciplinary Management”.

He further explained that this was in line with the World Cancer Day which was celebrated on the 4th of February to mark the start of a three-year campaign to raise global awareness around cancer and its impacts, especially on the most vulnerable citizens.

“A renewed effort to curb new cancer cases is urgent; alarming projections are that cancer death rates in Africa will rise exponentially over the next 20 years, exceeding the global average by 30 percent common challenges faced in the region include limited access to primary prevention and early detection services, lack of awareness and education in addition to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

“There is also limited access to palliative care and pain relief. Shortages of specialists in medical and radiation oncology, pathology, medical physics and other essential areas compound the gaps,” he said.

Dr. Mulombo lamented that Africa has only 3 percent of the world’s cancer treatment facilities, with radiotherapy available in just 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which contributes to poor survival rates.

He said children are also inequitably impacted, disclosing that of the more than 400,000 children diagnosed annually with cancer around the world, about 90 percent live in low- and middle-income countries.

He noted that survival rates are at a very low 20 percent or less in African countries, compared to more than 80 percent in developed countries.

“Common challenges faced in the region include limited access to primary prevention and early detection services, lack of awareness and education in addition to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

“There is also limited access to palliative care and pain relief. Shortages of specialists in medical and radiation oncology, pathology, medical physics and other essential areas compound the gaps.”

The WHO Country Representative explained that the United Nations Agency is supporting a number of key initiatives in countries. They include the Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative, the Global Breast Cancer Initiative, the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancers among others.

“For example, in the African region, 45% of countries introduced national HPV vaccination programmes to address the cervical cancer threat.

As WHO we are committed to supporting the country to implement priority activities towards cancer prevention and control,” he concluded




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