*Says, new cases has doubled from 338,000 to 846,000 in Africa
Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2021 world cancer day, the World Health Organisation, WHO has raised the alarm over the rising cases of cancer in Africa.
The WHO Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti in his message to mark the day lamented that over the past 20 years, new cancer cases have doubled in the African Region, from 338,000 as reported in 2002 to 846,000 cases in 2020.
The WHO boss who called on African leaders to work together to curb the rising cases identified the most common forms of cancers to include, cancer of the breast, cervix, prostate, bowel, colon, rectum and liver.
Dr Moeti said that the only way to strengthen cancer services is through capacity-building of health workers at the district level, along with implementation of a comprehensive surveillance system, and investment in digital innovations to improve cancer care.
“The African Region also bears the highest burden of cervical cancer among WHO regions, and so the World Health Assembly’s adoption in 2020 of the Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem was of key relevance to African countries.
“As part of the first wave countries implementing this strategy, Eswatini, Guinea, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia are scaling-up comprehensive cervical cancer programmes.
“Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine introduction needs to increase to prevent cervical cancer.
So far 17 African countries have introduced HPV vaccination nationwide, including Rwanda and Zimbabwe, who are both achieving high national HPV vaccine coverage with the commitment of their governments and partners.
“Looking ahead, the rising cancer burden will place additional pressures on resource-constrained health systems and on patients and their families who incur catastrophic costs to access services.
“As countries work towards achieving universal health coverage with WHO’s support, provision of cancer services, including pain relief, should be integrated in benefits packages and social insurance schemes.
“To strengthen cancer services, capacity-building is needed of health workers at the district level, along with implementation of a comprehensive surveillance system, and investment in digital innovations to improve cancer care”, Dr Moeti said.
Every year on February 4, WHO joins the international community in commemorating World Cancer Day.
This year the theme is, “I am and I will”.