THE CHALLENGE OF
CANCER IN AFRICA
BELMIRA RODRIGUES, MANAGING DIRECTOR, AFRICAN ORGANISATION FOR
RESEARCH AND TRAINING IN CANCER (AORTIC), CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
The African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) is committed to creating
awareness of the extent of cancer in Africa and to ensuring that programmes to prevent,
diagnose, treat and palliate cancer in Africa are firmly on the continent’s health agenda.
here is a massive lack of resources to detect and treat treatment and study of cancer – volunteering their expertise
cancer in Africa. The World Health Organization for the plight of the cancer patient on the continent.
estimates that nearly half a million Africans died of
cancer in 2010 and that compared to developed countries, the Mission
mortality to incidence ratio is in the order of 80% for most ‰ To facilitate development of National Cancer Control
cancers. This figure is expected to rise significantly in the next Programmes.
20 or so years, due to increased life expectancy, diet and ‰ Support the development of standardised training
western-influenced lifestyles. The vast majority of cancer programmes in all aspects of cancer care and
patients present with late stage disease due to lack of management.
awareness about cancer and limited access to health care. In ‰ Facilitate and promote research in cancer relevant to
addition, major knowledge gaps exist about the incidence of Africa.
cancer in Africa due to lack of cancer registries to collect reliable ‰ Provide relevant and accurate information on the
cancer-related data. One fifth of all cancers worldwide are prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and palliation of
caused by a chronic infection, and up to one third of cancers in cancer to health care professionals, the media and the
the developing world are curable if caught early. However, public.
awareness is increasing as people become better informed ‰ To create awareness of the prevalence of cancer in Africa.
about cancer due to social media and as prominent cancer ‰ To reduce the stigma associated with cancer.
survivors begin to tell their stories. ‰ To ensure that cancer is on the African Health Care
One of our key goals at AORTIC (African Organisation for Agenda.
Research and Training in Cancer) is to urge governments to
establish national cancer control plans in order to address Vision
resource issues, reversal of the brain drain of oncologists and AORTIC’s key objectives are to stimulate and promote
researchers away from Africa and to facilitate the research into cancer in Africa, to support and develop
implementation of more training and treatment facilities. standardized training programmes in all aspects of cancer care
and management and to enable African countries to develop
About AORTIC National Cancer Control Programmes (NCCP). AORTIC is
AORTIC is a pan-African, bilingual (English and French), multi- committed to creating awareness of the extent of cancer in
disciplinary organisation dedicated to the promotion of cancer Africa and to ensuring that programmes to prevent, diagnose,
care and control in Africa. AORTIC was formed in 1983 by treat and palliate cancer in Africa are firmly on the continent’s
expatriate African cancer care workers, scientists and their health agenda. The organisation will achieve this by working
friends, and is dedicated to the promotion of cancer control in with other international agencies and non profit organisations,
Africa. The Executive Council of AORTIC consists of scientists government agencies and businesses to act as advocate for
and clinicians with a professional interest in prevention, improved resources and access to care. AORTIC will also
120 CANCER CONTROL 2013