The Speaker of Parliament Rt.Hon. Rebecca Kadaga has called upon African governments to subsidise cancer drugs so as to ease access and affordability by those on treatment.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 10th ‘Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa Conference’ at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 25th July 2016, Kadaga noted that many cancer patients die because of the lack of access to much needed drugs and chemotherapy.
“Cancer drugs are very expensive and cannot be afforded by the ordinary person. We need to ask our governments to heavily subsidise the medication so as to save the lives of many who don’t have the capacity to pay for the mandatory doses,” she told delegates.
Rt.Hon.Kadaga in a meeting attended by African First Ladies, Health Ministers and medical experts called for more local research to develop other alternatives to the scarce cancer drugs manufactured by multinational pharmaceutical companies.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report tabled at the Conference indicated that over 14, 100,000 new cancer cases had been recorded globally since 2012. Over 8 million of the cancer patients have died with the majority of deaths recorded in Africa. The report states that many of them die because of the lack of access to affordable medication.
The Report also projected that the number of cancer patients will rise globally to 32 million in the next five years if urgent interventions are not made to stop its spread. The disease is more prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa where over 1 million patients are living with cancer.
WHO is concerned that cancer has killed more people than HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined.
Speaker Kadaga reaffirmed the commitment of the Parliament of Uganda in appropriating resources to the health sector but also called for more decentralized interventions.
“Ethiopia has screening centres at over 118 hospitals spread across the country. We need to borrow a leaf and take services closer to the population at the grassroots. Many die because they are diagosnised when it’s too late,” she said.
The Speaker also re-echoed the need to rally leaders at all levels to sensitize the masses on the need for cancer screening at early stages to help reduce preventable deaths.
Uganda’s Health Minister, Hon. Sarah Opendi reaffirmed the commitment of government to curbing the increase in cancer cases. She announced plans to make the Uganda Cancer Institute a centre of excellence that will provide detailed research and treatment in the region.
The Conference applauded African First Ladies for the concerted effort to curb the spread of cancer.
Ethiopian Prime Minister H.E Haile Mariam Desalegn was named Africa’s Goodwill Ambassador for Women and Childrens’ Health.