Though the threat is increasing at an alarming rate now, the pictures are not gloomy as over 40 per cent of cancer cases could be easily preventable though early detection ,treatment, life style and nutrition adjustment.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn called on the first ladies of the African continent to put utmost effort to fight the alarmingly increasing and dribbling burden of cancer in the continent.
Opening the 10th International Conference on Cancer themed : “Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa” and " A decade of Accomplishments, Our Enduring Legacies and Challenges Ahead" yesterday, the Premier said though the threat is increasing at an alarming rate now, the pictures are not gloomy as over 40 per cent of cancer cases could be easily preventable though early detection ,treatment, life style and nutrition adjustment.
The staggering cancer cases which are killing many citizens of Africa mostly women, have become a problem as many of the victims have little culture and tendency of engaging in early detection and treatment.
Hailemariam said : " Joint, diligent and result oriented cost intervention works that are equitable, accessible care services and partnership are important to have an effective carrier in combating cancer."
The Prime Minister reaffirmed that the government of Ethiopia is always committed to sustainably combat cancer in the nation and in Africa as well. He added: “First Ladies and their respective spouses need to work on advocating and intensifying the campaign against cancer and other reproductive health issues effectively.”
First Lady Roman Tesfaye said on her part that cancer has widened and gripped its impact on the population especially on women in Africa with an estimated 70 per cent of all deaths.
Noting the significant share of cervical and breast cancer cases, she said about 66,00 new cancer cases are registered in Ethiopia annually.
The First Lady said that because of psycho-social pain and trauma thousands of our mothers and sisters perish without even getting medical treatment while they are on waiting list.
She said the situation is similar in many African countries as drugs and treatment costs are not affordable to many citizens. " We African ladies should work hand in hand to combating such a continental threat and we need to raise our voice in a call for policy attention and resource allocation to fight cancer in our respective countries and be a champion in advocating the issue to save more lives and improve their chances of survival."
Partnership, advocacy for higher level investment on cancer, pain medication and cancer treatment are important to reverse the situation and save more lives. Roman added:" The minimum cost for cancer treatment for children in the continent is about 3,000 USD while there are many countries in Africa with a per capita income of less than 700 USD a year."
The First Lady recommended: " Cancer medicine and treatment should be subsidized by African governments as well as development partners to say that we all are committed to steadily save lives, raise our voice heard in all possible platforms."
She also highlighted the commitment of the government of Ethiopia in giving much focus to the agenda as progresses have been registered over the last three years in a joint war against cancer though much remains to be done.
Health Minister Dr. Kesteteberhan Admassu said that Ethiopia has viable policies, strategies and a national cancer prevention programme aimed at tackling diseases and threats like cancer.
The activities carried out by the First Lady of Ethiopia on cancer and other issues of heath are significant and need appreciation. He added: " We need to focus on primary care and give our utmost effort through political and social commitment creating internal and external strong partnership."
Foreign Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom said on his part that prevention-based strategy of the nation will enable Ethiopia to properly address the issue. He said: " We need to work together to save each other." He said health, which is a human right issue and a means to securing development.
Earlier, the conference elected First Lady Roman as Chairperson of the African First Ladies Forum for one year.
Health State Minister Dr. Kebede Worku, founder of the Princess Nicky Foundation, other regional and international figures have also delivered speeches during the opening of the conference.
On Sunday, a round table discussion of African First Ladies Forum chaired by First Lady Roman discussed ways empowering women economically as it is essential to combating cancer and other diseases to get a better health accessibility and freedom in the over all decision making process in their lives.
Representative of COMESA, UN-Women and State Minister of Women and Children of Ethiopia as well as some African countries first ladies attended the discussion.