By Linda Ike
The World Health Organization WHO has disclosed that Africa records around 1.1 million new cases of cancer annually, resulting in up to 700,000 deaths.
The Organisatíon said that Breast cancer, cervical, prostate, liver and colorectal cancers, account for almost half the new cases on the continent yearly.
WHO Country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo stated this in his Talking Points to mark the 2022 International Cancer Week, commencing from 1st to 4th November. with the theme “Bridging the Cancer Care Gap: Improving Diagnosis and Multidisciplinary Management”.
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.
“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 explained that WHO is supporting a number of key initiatives in countries to close the care gap which
includes the Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative, the Global Breast Cancer Initiative, the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancers among others.
“For examples, in the African region, 45% of countries introduced national HPV vaccination programmes to address the cervical cancer threat” he hinted out.
The country Representative reaffirmed WHO’s commitment to supporting the country to implement priority activities towards cancer prevention and control.
He also commended the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire for his commitment towards cancer prevention and control in Nigeria and the National Coordinator, National Cancer Control Programme and the Local Organizing Committee for the good works.