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WHO Raises Alarm as Cancer claims over 500,000 Africans

February 5, 2024: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that over 500,000 Africans lost their lives to cancer in 2022, marking a concerning surge in cases across the continent. Additionally, WHO warned that without immediate intervention, annual cancer-related deaths in Africa could reach one million by 2030.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, highlighted the alarming statistics on the occasion of 2024 World Cancer Day. Moeti emphasised that approximately 882,000 new cancer cases were reported in Africa in 2022, with breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, and liver cancers accounting for 50% of the diagnoses. The WHO Regional Director expressed concern that if action is not taken promptly, death rates may surpass the global average of 30% within the next two decades.

Moeti acknowledged the progress made in cancer prevention and care, citing the introduction of high-performance-based screening tests in 17 countries and nationwide HPV vaccination in 28 member states. Despite these efforts, the survival rates for cancer in the WHO African region stand at an average of 12%, significantly lower than the 80% average in high-income countries.

Calling for unity among African countries, communities, partners, and civil society, Moeti urged collective efforts to ensure universal access to cancer prevention and care.

In alignment with the World Cancer Day theme, “Closing the Care Gap,” the First Lady of Nigeria, Oluremi Tinubu, stressed the importance of empathy, care, love, and support for cancer patients and survivors. She emphasised that no one should face the challenges of cancer alone and urged continued awareness, advocacy, and the establishment of infrastructure to address health challenges.

Concurrently, Hassy’s Haven Foundation highlighted cancer as a major health concern in Nigeria, impacting 28% of the population directly or indirectly. Founder Hassana Muhammad Yakubu referred to the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment’s revelation that Nigeria records over 120,000 new cases annually, underscoring the urgency of addressing the growing cancer burden in the country.

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