Funmilola Saliu-Adeyemi ;
On February 4th, as the world observes World Cancer Day, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, delivered a powerful message emphasizing the urgency to address cancer disparities across the continent. Highlighting the theme of “Together, we challenge those in power,” Dr. Moeti stressed the importance of global leaders prioritizing investments in cancer prevention and care to achieve a just and cancer-free world.
The statistics presented by Dr. Moeti painted a grim picture of the cancer situation in Africa. With approximately 882,882 new cancer cases and 573,653 deaths recorded in the WHO African Region in 2022 alone, urgent action is needed to curb the rising mortality rates. Alarmingly, if current trends persist, cancer deaths in Africa are projected to surpass one million per year by 2030, with survival rates significantly lower than the global average.
Despite the challenges, Dr. Moeti acknowledged the progress made in cancer prevention and care, citing the introduction of high-performance screening tests and nationwide HPV vaccination in several countries. However, she emphasized the need for a collaborative effort involving governments, communities, partners, and civil society to ensure universal access to cancer prevention and care.
Dr. Moeti called on African countries to prioritize evidence-based interventions and invest in cancer control, utilizing resources such as the WHO Best Buys to guide policy decisions. She stressed the importance of deploying cost-effective technologies and therapies while strengthening information systems for data-driven decision-making.
Furthermore, Dr. Moeti emphasized the essential role of civil society, particularly organizations representing cancer survivors, in advocating for improved cancer care. A holistic approach, she noted, is crucial in addressing the multifaceted challenges of cancer prevention and treatment in Africa.
As World Cancer Day 2024 resonates with the call to action, Dr. Moeti urged leaders to heed the collective demand for a cancer-free Africa, emphasizing that “Together, we challenge those in power” to prioritize the health and well-being of all individuals, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location.