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Cancer Control in Africa

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Authors: Twalib Ngoma, Alina Macacu and Peter Boyle


Cancer is a growing global problem. Numbers of cases are rising and in many countries healthcare is struggling to cope with the current situation and is failing to anticipate future needs. While technology is improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancers, the cost of such innovation is very high.


Africa is struggling to catch up and find the ways and means to treat its current cancer burden and is failing badly. The articles in this special issue highlight some of the major problems currently being faced by the oncological community on that continent.

Most of the articles have been written by individuals working in Africa. The picture they paint is an accurate description of the current situation of oncology in Africa.

While struggling to cope with the current situation, radical change is needed to deal with the future flood of patients with cancer. This is a certainty to happen with the growth and ageing of the population, the increasing control of infectious diseases and the adoption of aspects of western lifestyle with increases in the risk of developing cancer.


Apart from describing the current situation, an attempt is made to outline how to make rapid progress for the future. It will require exceptional funding and coordinated and sustainable investment in human capital, and in infrastructure as well as a significant financial investment. Unless something is done, Africans will die in increasing numbers from cancer. It is the right of the African population to be treated appropriately for their condition and to enjoy the same outcomes of their disease as in high-resource countries. Unless action is taken immediately, it will be too late to avoid another African Health Emergency.


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