Themed ‘Investing to save lives: the role of public and private sector partnerships,’ the conference addressed the need for effective partnerships to address the cancer burden in Africa. To this end, the conference brought together first ladies, parliamentarians, ministers of health, health professionals, scientists, advocates against cancer, corporate entities and other relevant stakeholders.
Here is a summary of highlights from the first day, which included an emphasis on the following issues:
- The need for effective and innovative partnerships was mentioned, as well as financing for the effective implementation of national cancer control plans (Ms Nelly Enwerem-Brown, PACT/IAEA).
- The need for regular funding of cancer registries to ensure better planning, implementation and monitoring of cancer interventions (Head of the Nairobi Cancer Registry, Dr Anne Korir).
- The need for cancer institutes to work together with universities as a model that can increase capacity in Africa. This has been modelled in Tanzania, where the number of oncologists has been increased, and an oncology course is instituted for doctors. Steps have also been taken toward the installation of three radiotherapy machines and planning for another four across the country (Twalib Ngoma, Former Director of the Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam, and current Professor Professor of Oncology at the Dar Es Salaam University).
- The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) work was highlighted in its global partnership to enhance prevention, early detection, and equitable access in terms of human resources and infrastructure. These include ways of raising awareness and dealing with stigma (Ms Ann Mickel from the American Cancer Society). In Africa, ACS has supported the development of viable opioid access models on the continent and the offering of technical support (Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, Executive Director, African Palliative Care Association).
- The example of a public-private partnership between the Uganda Ministry of Health and Hospice Africa Uganda was highlighted as it avails oral morphine through the National Medical Stores with Uganda being the only country with a statute that allows nurses and clinical officers to prescribe oral morphine (Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, Executive Director, African Palliative Care Association).
- The need for early detection of cancer was linked to timely and effective treatment (WHO Country Representative for Kenya, Dr Custodia Mandlhate).
- A case study of Zambia’s development of a cervical cancer screening approach was shared as it is run by nurses with the use of technology to share pictures for quality control. Over 223,000 women have been screened in the country and 60,000 have been referred or treated. This has resulted Zambia improving its status from being the country with the highest cervical cancer rates to the fourth (Dr Lishimpi from the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Zambia).
Palliative care (Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, Executive Director, African Palliative Care Association)
- A call for member states to use the World Health Assembly palliative care resolution passed last year was emphasised to develop palliative care services.
- The need for national cancer control plans to ensure that they include palliative care was highlighted. Zimbabwe served as a case study for having a control plan that exemplifies the whole continuum of care covered for cancer.
- The need to address access to opioids in Africa where the averaged morphine consumption per capita in Africa is far below the global average where even the top consumer in Africa — Seychelles — is below the global average of over 6mg/per capita.
- Palliative care policy development was highlighted, as implemented in Rwanda, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, with a couple of others such as Uganda and Botswana working on theirs.
For more information on the SCCA conference, visit the SCCA conference website.