African First Ladies on Saturday called for greater resources in the fight against cancer in the continent in a meeting held on the sidelines of the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Niamey, Niger.
The First Ladies also called for a rise in taxes for cancer-causing products, such as tobacco and alcohol.
“We, the First Ladies of Africa, would like to make an appeal to the international community, to the African Union, to regional and sub-regional organisations, civil societies, governments and all stakeholders to support this initiative to curb non-communicable disease including the prevention and treatment of cancer,” a communiqué from the meeting read in part.
Presidents Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, Idriss Deby of Chad and Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso pledged their support in the fight against the disease.
It is estimated that about 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.
According to the World Health Organisation, the most common cancers in the African Region are cancers of the cervix, breast, liver and prostate as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The WHO also says infections due to human papillomavirus and hepatitis B and C viruses significantly contribute to the burden of cervical and liver cancer.
In Africa, 34 out of every 100,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 23 out of every 100,000 women die from cervical cancer every year according to the WHO.