Cancer crisis: U.S firm partners Nigeria, five others

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A United States firm, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), which enlists the capabilities of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries to tackle critical global health needs, has said it will expand its programmes to address the emerging cancer crisis in Africa.
It said in a statement by Businesswire that it will work with the African Access Initiative (AAI) to provide affordable, sustainable access to cancer therapeutics, enhance healthcare capacity, and foster cancer research in Africa.
BVGH will launch its new initiative at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention in San Diego on June 21, 2017.
The initial phase of AAI will involve one to three hospitals in each of six African countries – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal. BVGH will assess the cancer treatment and R&D needs of each participating hospital and country; engage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with complementary capabilities, priorities and interests; and broker innovative partnership and custom pricing agreements among the hospitals, governments, and companies to address the identified needs.
Details of the AAI program along with a joint BVGH/AORTIC white paper on the state of cancer care in Africa will be presented at the BIO meeting in June.
Cancer kills 50% more Africans than malaria.
GLOBOCAN reported the number of Africans who died from cancer in 2015 was 635,404. By comparison, malaria killed 394,680 Africans according to the World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report 2016.
The WHO expects cancer deaths in Africa will nearly double in the next two decades, while malaria is projected to continue to decline on the continent.
African healthcare leaders are turning their attention to cancer and non-communicable diseases as they see the rise in cancer cases is already overwhelming many existing healthcare systems.
Most African countries do not even have adequate radiation centers to treat patients. Some countries have none and lack the specialized skills necessary to deliver radiation therapy. Dramatic disparities in patient outcomes are the norm in Africa compared to middle and higher income countries.
For example, five-year net survival from breast cancer is 90% in the US, vs. 12% in Gambia.
“Understanding Africa’s cancer crisis is the first step in finding innovative ways of overcoming the current health systems’ challenges on the continent,” said Dr. Cristina Stefan, president-elect of the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC). “Partnerships and collaboration with international organizations are essential in advancing and sustaining a better health care with access to oncology medicine for all Africans, as well as for responsible teaching, training and research.”

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