African states called on to subsidize cancer treatment
Cervical, breast and prostate cancers taking heavy toll on African sufferers
By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
“Ignorance”, a lack of access to treatment and the prohibitive cost of drugs are hitting African families struggling with cancer, according to Ethiopia’s First Lady Roman Tesfaye.
Roman – a former economic advisor and human rights advocate – was speaking on Monday at a cancer conference in the African Union’s HQ in Addis Ababa. Addressing a group of African first ladies, Roman appealed to the continent’s governments to subsidize cancer diagnosis and care.
The 10th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa Conference (SCCA) heard that cancer – especially cervical, breast and prostate – is taking a heavy toll in Africa despite the myth that it is the disease of the developed world.
According to official data released at Monday’s event, 8.2 million people die annually due to cancer in the world. In 2012 alone, 847,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in Africa, 591,000 of these people died from the illness.
The number of cancer patients is projected to reach 1.4 million people by 2030 worldwide. Some 40 per cent of cancer cases are preventable.
“Ignorance [about the disease], lack of access to treatment and unaffordability of drugs …are common stories across Africa that need to be changed,” Roman, wife of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said.
According to Roman, every single cycle of cancer treatment demands at least $3,000: “African families cannot afford this."
“Cancer diagnosis, treatment and care should therefore be subsidized in Africa,” she said.
In his opening address, Prime Minister Desalegn pledged assistance to the organization in its efforts to strop cervical, breast and prostate cancer in Africa:
“I was saddened to hear in this conference that cancer was killing more people in Africa than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined,” he said.
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