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WHO: Cancer Kills Over 500,000 Africans In 2022

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is seeking urgent interventions to avert a projected one million annual deaths by 2030, as it revealed that more than 500,000 Africans died of cancer in 2022, stating that about 882,000 new cancer cases were reported in the African Region the same year.

WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, in a message to commemorate the 2024 World Cancer Day, noted that more cases and deaths may be recorded yearly if there are no urgent interventions.

Moeti also said the cancer situation in Africa is disheartening, noting that approximately 882,000 new cases occurred in the African Region in 2022. She said about 573,653 deaths were also recorded in the same year.

The regional director also noted that about 50 percent of new cancer cases in adults in Africa are due to breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal and liver cancers.

She said if urgent measures are not taken, cancer mortality in the region is projected to reach about one million deaths per year by 2030.

“Also, in 20 years, cancer death rates in Africa will overtake the global average of 30 percent. This is because cancer survival rates in the WHO African region currently average 12 percent, much lower than the average of over 80 percent in high-income countries,” she said.

Moeti commended the progress made in cancer prevention and care in the region, noting that 17 countries have introduced high-performance-based screening tests in line with the WHO recommendations.

“Also, 28 of our member states have introduced nationwide Human Papillomavirus vaccination to reach about 60 percent of the priority population targeted with HPV vaccination,” she said.

She called on the region’s countries, communities, partners and civil society to unite and foster universal access to cancer prevention and care.

Moeti said stakeholders must identify feasible priorities, implement evidence-based population-wide interventions and invest in cancer control.

She urged countries to use the updated WHO Best Buys, the facilitative tool designed to enable governments to select lifesaving policies and interventions for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

“Leaders are responsible for ensuring that cancer prevention and care deploy technologies and therapies that are available at low cost. Furthermore, countries should strengthen information systems to gather quality data for decision-making.

“We believe that regardless of socio-economic status, geographic location, age and gender, every person must be afforded an equal chance at the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer,” she said

World Cancer Day is an international day marked yearly on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.

This year marks the third and final year of the campaign. The theme for the 2024 World Cancer Day is ‘Together, we challenge those in power’.