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Cancer: A Silent Tragedy

In Africa, cancers of the cervix and breast are not just diseases, but tragedies. Tragedies played out in the theatres of silence in informal settlements, squatter camps, peri-urban communities and rural villages, where women have no voice and the prevailing belief is that cancer is a disease of shame, often associated with a fatalistic curse for having lived an immoral life, or some form of witchcraft.

Scope of the Challenge

  • By 2030 one million Africans will die each year from cancer


  • A significant majority will be women who die from cancers of the cervix and breast


  • Many will die without a diagnosis


  • Most will die without having had any form of conventional treatment, or access to pain medicine

Barriers to Cancer Care

In Africa, misconceptions and myths about cancer often lead to self-victimization and care-seeking only after symptoms become unbearable. When women finally do seek care they often find ill-equipped health facilities and healthcare professionals who lack the specialized training required to execute proper care. 

Weak Healthcare Infrastructure

As a result of decades of underinvestment, the healthcare systems in many parts of Africa find it difficult to deliver high quality cancer care because of weak physical infrastructures. The Friends of Africa, Inc. works with African Ministries of Health to help build and strengthen their cancer care ecosystems by making wise investments in equipment and supplies.

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