AFRICA —AstraZeneca has teamed up with a host of African organizations to help patients across the continent gain better and more fair access to cancer care.

The program dubbed “Accelerating Change Together for Cancer Care in Africa” (ACT; CCA) aims to “tackle the growing burden of cancer across the continent and improve patient outcomes,” the British Big Pharma said in a press release.

The project was announced on the margins of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) this month, and comes under the patronage of the Egyptian Ministry of Health.

The Accelerating Change Together; Cancer Care in Africa (ACT;CCA) program provides a platform for partners to co-create cancer care solutions that close the gaps in the existing patient care pathway, from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond.

This partnership could not have come at a better time than now. Over 700,000 deaths occurred due to cancer across the region in 2020; across Sub-Saharan Africa, the current mortality rates are reaching 70 percent in diagnosed cases.

The ACT;CCA aims to make a difference in lung, breast, and prostate cancers through capacity building, early screening, and diagnosis, and patient empowerment

Over the next three years, ACT;CCA hopes to increase screening and diagnostics for 1 million people with various cancers, as well as train more than 10,000 healthcare professionals at 100 oncology centers.

Bleak projections of cancer incidences in the region call for robust measures to slay the cancer monster.

For instance, an estimated 2.1 million new cancer cases and 1.4 million deaths are expected annually by 2040 across the continent. Cancers of the breast and prostate are among the top three most prevalent in the region.

The program is led by a steering committee of doctors, oncology institutions, and advocacy groups to guide policy intervention, share learnings across borders, and put cancer patients first. Members will meet on a regular basis to drive progress on cancer initiatives.

Mohsen Mokhtar, professor of clinical oncology, managing director of Cairo University Cancer Centre and president of Can-Survive-Egypt, said collaboration was key to improving cancer outcomes.

Launch events focused on local initiatives under the ACT;CCA umbrella are planned for the coming months in Algeria, Morocco, and Kenya.

AstraZeneca sells cancer drugs like Imjudo, Imfinzi, Faslodex, Lynparza, and Tagrisso all over the world for a variety of oncology indications like liver, lung, breast, and skin cancer.

The company has several other initiatives in Africa, the majority of which involve increasing vaccination rates.

It most recently collaborated on supporting mobile health clinics in Kenya, which launched in June.

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