Cancer can be a death warrant in some developing countries, spurring the United Nations atomic agency and the international community today to hold a high-level discussion on how to get more funding and support for treatment to parts of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
“The rising tide of cancer calls for additional human and financial resources, as well as infrastructure,” Nelly Enwerem-Bromson, Director of the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy at the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said at the meeting in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. He spoke alongside Sudanese Vice-President Hassabo Mohammed Abdalrahman, who opened the meeting.
The event, co-organized by the IAEA and the Sudanese Government, brought together health and finance representatives from 16 Governments to discuss their funding proposals on how to better detect and treat breast and cervical cancer, and develop nuclear medicine and radiotherapy as part of national cancer control programmes.
Each year, 8.8 million people die from cancer, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). The figure is so high that is accounts for two and a half times more people killed than those who die from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
Cervical cancer is particularly deadly and disproportionally affects women in developing countries, where 83 per cent of all new cases occur, IAEA reported.
One of the plans discusses proposes to establish a permanent screening centre in Cameroon, where 1,400 new women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and 700 die.
The meeting also reviewed a proposal to expand cancer services for low-income people in Jordan, including refugees. The only public radiotherapy facility is in the capital, Amman, which treats around 50 patients per day.
The Governments represented at today's meeting are members of the IAEA, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Islamic Development Bank.
Other institutions present included the African Development Bank, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa and the WHO.