As many of the world’s richer nations have begun slowing the rise of cancer, Africa is losing ground to the disease at a startling rate. Without urgent action, African societies run the risk of being overwhelmed, healthcare experts warn.
In sub-Saharan Africa, new cases of cancer will grow to more than 1 million per annum over the next five years, according to online medical journal ECancer. Women are being hit especially hard, with breast cancer having increasing by 70% since 2000. Together with cervical cancer, it accounts for more than 20% of cancer deaths over the past 2 decades.
Overall, cancer claims more than half a million lives per year throughout the continent – a figure expected to skyrocket dramatically in the coming years. The potential consequences will be devastating to African governments & societies.
“African health systems are already overburdened & underfunded” warns Pascal Mukadi, Executive Chairman of Medical Fund Management (MFM) – a Johannesburg-based company. “Rising cancer rates seriously threaten our capacity to deal with other public health issues.
MFM manages healthcare funds for individuals, governments & organizations across the African continent. Using digital app technology, the company provides a range of medical solutions aimed at patients who need treatment abroad.
Since the turn of the century, African societies have witnessed a gradual shift in disease prevalence on the continent – from infectious disease to non-communicable conditions such as cancer. The cost implications are enormous: generally, cancers are far more expensive to treat than infectious diseases – requiring greater spend on diagnostics, labs & medical practitioners as well as on specialized treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy & surgery. As the incidence of cancer grows throughout sub-Saharan Africa, it may wreak havoc on national healthcare budgets.
Mukadi warns that, unless African governments change their strategies for dealing with diseases like cancer – soon – the scourge has the potential to derail Africa’s growth prospects.
“To a large extent, cancer & other non-communicable diseases feed off of our behaviors such as how we eat & how govern our bodies – beginning with the mind” says the entrepreneur & philanthropist. “As governments & as healthcare stakeholders, we need to be investing more in helping Africans to make better lifestyle choices. Ultimately, it’s by empowering our minds that we will eventually conquer cancer – not just through taking medicines.”
At the same time, Africa needs to be investing more in homegrown medical solutions, Mukadi says. “The bulk of our clients use our services to help them arrange medical treatment abroad”, he says. “But, while we oblige them, we’re about reinvesting our revenues in the development of superb, world-class medical facilities here in Africa. “
He pauses thoughtfully for a moment.
“We Africans can conquer cancer – but we need to reimagine our healthcare approach” he advises. “We need to move quickly.”
Author: MFM Editor
Published By: MFM Media