The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, has appeal to African countries to up the campaign against cancer addressing risk factors as well as screening and early diagnosis if the continent is to get rid of the catastrophic disease.
Dr Matshidiso said during high-level advocacy event on cancer in Africa held in Niamey, Niger on the side-lines of the African Union summit.
“Cancer screening and early detection are essential to optimize the investment being made by countries to address cancer,” she said.
The Regional Director noted that cost-effective interventions can be implemented, focusing particularly on tobacco control, promoting healthy diet and physical activity, reducing harmful use of alcohol and reducing air pollution.
She urged countries to take the opportunity offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to share resources for cancer prevention and control through coordination of services, access to care and pooled procurement of cancer medicines.
The event attracted over 300 delegates including Presidents Mahamadou Issoufou, Idris Déby and Christian Kabore of Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso respectively, some African First Ladies, Ministers of Health, representatives from UN agencies, donors, civil society and other development partners.
Each year, there are nearly one million new cases and over half a million cancer deaths in the African region. By 2040, these numbers will double if firm actions are not taken to address them.
While most African countries are implementing national cancer prevention, treatment and control programmes, stronger inter-sectoral and transnational collaborations have emerged as some of the solutions that will complement ongoing efforts in the continent.