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World Cancer Day 2024

Message of the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti

In August 2023, I attended a cervical cancer meeting with survivors and was excited by the potential of new tools to accelerate access to vaccination, screening, and treatment. One of the things survivors said was the need for leaders to listen to their stories.

On the 4th of February every year, the world unites to raise awareness on fundamental cancer issues; we at the WHO African Region connect with the public in spearheading this annual awareness day and beyond.

Between 2022 and 2024, the focus of World Cancer Day is to help “Close the cancer gap.” This year marks the third and final year of the campaign. The theme for this year is “Together, we challenge those in power”. This theme encompasses the global demand for leaders to prioritize and invest in cancer prevention and care and to do more to achieve a just and cancer-free world.

The cancer situation in Africa is disheartening. In the year 2020, approximately 1.1 million new cancer cases occurred on the continent, with around 700 000 deaths. About 50% of new cancer cases in adults in Africa are due to breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, and liver cancers. 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%. This is more so because cancer survival rates in the WHO African region currently average 12%, much lower than the average of over 80% in High-Income Countries.

Nevertheless, we commend the progress made in cancer prevention and care in our region. For instance, 17 countries have introduced high-performance-based screening tests in line with the WHO recommendations. Also, 28 of our Member States have introduced nationwide HPV vaccination to reach about 60% of the priority population targeted with HPV vaccination.

This year’s theme is auspicious as it reinforces all persons and groups’ universal right to health. We believe that regardless of socioeconomic status, geographic location, age, and gender, every person must be afforded an equal chance at the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

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

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

Countries should use the updated WHO Best Buys , the facilitative tool designed to enable governments to select lifesaving policies and interventions for noncommunicable diseases.

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

We reiterate that civil society, especially organizations of cancer survivors or persons with lived cancer experiences, are critical in the fight against cancer in Africa. Such a whole-of-society approach to cancer prevention and care is the essence of this year’s World Cancer Day theme.

“Together, we challenge those in power” to go the extra mile for a cancer-free Africa!

About Joy Ogbebo

My name is joy Ogbebo. I have spent Twenty four years in the Aviation Industry as a Cabin Crew, Crew Development Purser, Crew Line Manager, Line Trainer, Performance Manager. Customer Relationship and Head Cabin & Inflight Services. This is an industry I am very passionate about. Am happy to share my knowledge and experiences with the world. Please be my guest! Welcome Onboard!

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