BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
ADDIS ABABA– The African Union(AU) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have launched new initiative dubbed as ‘ Rays of Hope’ that would strengthen national cancer control programmes and establish the first radiotherapy centers in countries without this life-saving technology and knowledge.
Launching the initiative , the IAEA Director- General Rafael Mariano Grossi yesterday said that in Africa, where cancer kills more people than malaria and tuberculosis combined carries a disproportionate share of the burden in the world.
According to him, cancer care will increase as Africans population grows and an economic progress raises life expectancy. ‘’That is why I launched Rays of Hope initiative during the 35th AU Summit on this year’s World Cancer Day and why the first countries involved in the initiative are from Africa’’
Tragically, he said that over half the population in low and middle income countries, including 70 percent of Africans, do not have access to radiotherapy. The situation is most acute in countries that completely lack facilities and trained personnel in radiotherapy, the director said adding that this unequal burden is unacceptable, and closing the cancer gap in Africa must be prioritized.
In order to strengthen the effort against cancer, the will and commitment of African leaders is a must, he underlined. At the event ,acknowledging the effort of IAEA against cancer ,AU Chairperson Musafaki Mahamat said that countries should strengthen their capacity of radio therapy to create a continent free from cancer.
He, therefore, said that Africans need to identify the risk factors to reduce, mortality and morbidity towards cancer across the continent. The incoming AU Chairperson Senegalese President Macky Sall also said that cancer is a silent killer which causes more than 700,000 deaths across the continent. 40 percent of countries have no facility for radiotherapy.
“The initiative launched today is a new beginning for us to mobilize urgently and to tackle cancer in all fronts. We need to come up with infrastructure equipment and we need to train specialists in health.”
It was learnt that by 2040, annual cancer cases in Africa are expected to double, with death rates exceeding the global average by almost a third.
The February 5/2022