Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady, on Tuesday launched a report on “Cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Lancet Oncology Commission” in Accra.
The report calls on all stakeholders especially policymakers in health sector to unite and chart a collective response to the increasing burden of cancer in Africa.
The Commission, comprised of national and international experts from academia and healthcare, presented a framework that can be used by governments and non-governmental organisations to increase access to cancer care, accelerate cancer prevention and increase survival in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Wilfred Ngwa, the Commission Chair, said projected trends underscored the devastating costs of inaction on cancer incidence rates and cancer mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Ngwa said while the list of barriers hindering effective cancer control in the region was long, the pursuit of robust cancer registries, effective cancer control plans, early cancer screening and detection, and the integration of palliative care into the cancer care pathway was critical.
He called for greater focus on the implementation of telemedicine and new technologies, building and training the oncology workforce, and boosting cancer research to radically improve cancer care across the region.
The Professor said, “Digital health is already being adopted at a high rate as seen in Nigeria and South Africa, including in cancer care, where tele-oncology became a necessity for providing remote chemotherapy supervision, symptom management, and palliative care to many cancer patients.
He called for improved policy and increased infrastructure, linguistics, extended to all patients which were critical to improving cancer and Non Communicable Diseases.
Dr Beatrice Wiafe Addai, the renowned cancer care advocate and co-chair of the Commission, said population knowledge and attitudes about cancer risk factors were critical to reducing the burden of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa.
She said public health campaigns needed to form an instrumental part of any effective cancer control programme to raise population awareness about harmful risk factors, and healthy habits and dispel misinformation.
“At the same time, transformative policies must be in place to foster cancer prevention uptake. Previous case studies have shown that civil societies could work with governments to design cancer awareness education programmes, scalable across the Sub-Saharan Africa in parallel with other initiatives,” she said.