Our Story

OUR MISSION

Our vision is for every person diagnosed with cancer to receive the highest possible standard of specialty care, without undue financial burden. We are working to advance the practitioners, products, and processes that will improve cancer care and control in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as other emerging health systems around the world.

BACKGROUND

Sub-Saharan Africa’s cancer burden is significant and growing. In 2018, there were an estimated 811,200 new cases of cancer and 533,900 deaths from cancer in the region (1). The World Health Organization projects cancer deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa to increase 88% between 2015 and 2030, greatly surpassing deaths from HIV/AIDS and malaria, which are projected to increase by 15% and 6% respectively, in the same time frame (2). Annual cancer deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa are projected to increase to 983,000 people by 2030 (1).

Cancer in Africa is characterized by late diagnosis, limited access to treatment, and poor patient outcomes, even for cancers that are highly treatable. Most patients seeking treatment are already in the advanced stages of the disease, and it is estimated that fewer than 10% of patients receive pain relief, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy. As a result, cancer is twice as lethal in Sub-Saharan Africa as in the United States (1).

Our story

THE CHALLENGE

Our efforts are focused on three priority areas: 

Practitioners: Sub-Saharan Africa faces an extreme shortage in the oncology workforce – from oncologists, to radiotherapy technicians, to pharmacists, nurses, medical physicists, and pathologists. We work with health ministries and hospitals to expand, upskill, and support the oncology workforce.

Products: Often high-quality, affordable treatments and diagnostics are lacking at hospitals due to market failures and gaps in management systems. As a result, patients often go without treatment, or providers are forced to create sub-optimal treatment plans. We work to improve access to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, diagnostics, and pain relief by shaping the market to function better.

Processes: Guidelines, which promote delivery of evidence-based care, improve patient and health worker safety, and ensure effective use of resources are largely absent across the region. We work with experts on the African continent and around the world to reduce the asymmetry of information between low- and high-resource settings by developing appropriate and actionable processes to improve the quality of cancer care. Examples include creation of treatment guidelines harmonized to the variable resources available in African hospitals for oncologists to use, and tools to streamline policymakers’ resource planning for cancer control.
 

WHO WE ARE

Allied Against Cancer is a network of African oncology experts and technical assistance partners from the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. Our agenda is driven by African practitioners and governments seeking to address access and quality disparities in cancer care and control.

At the center of the work is The African Cancer Coalition, a growing consortium of clinical and public health experts from 16 countries across the continent. The Coalition partners with us and sets the priorities for our work. Read more here.

Supporting the African Cancer Coalition are the founding partners of Allied Against Cancer: The American Cancer Society (ACS), IBM, and The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). These partners focus on practically and directly mitigating the growing problem of cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa, each delivering unique assets to joint initiatives that enable the conditions for a sustainable cancer care system.

Additionally, we collaborate with other organizations on specific projects that support the agenda created by The African Cancer Coalition. Examples of partners include The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), who is supporting cancer treatment guideline development, and Novartis and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), who are supporting improvement of cancer diagnostics.

HOW WE WORK

The African oncology community sets the priorities to advance the practitioners, products, and processes affecting cancer care. Allied Against Cancer brings together the necessary technical assistance partners and resources to work on these projects. A working group of experts from The African Cancer Coalition are an integral part of every project.

Examples of our work include: 

  • Establishing agreements with pharmaceutical manufacturers to increase access and availability of essential, high-quality cancer medicines. 
  • Organizing regional working group sessions to set standards for cancer treatment and create space for innovation. 
  • Developing digital platforms for clinical decision support to facilitate treatment planning and adoption of clinical guidelines that raise the standard of care.

Additional information

Novartis, ASCP and ACS join forces to fight cancer in Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. American Cancer Society Press Release (Nov 15, 2017).

As Cancer Tears Through Africa, Drug Makers Draw Up a Battle Plan. The New York Times (Oct 7, 2017).

Brain scan: Meg O’Brien and therapies for all. The Economist (Sept 14, 2017).

American Cancer Society and Clinton Health Access Initiative Announce Collaborations with Pfizer and Cipla to Increase Access to Lifesaving Cancer Treatment in Africa. American Cancer Society Press Release (Jun 20, 2017).

Helping Cancer's Forgotten Victims. Scientific American (May 12, 2017).

Sharing data could help African governments reduce the cost of cancer treatment. Quartz Africa (Dec 22, 2016).

 

Sources:
1. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Globocan 2018: Estimated Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2018 [Internet]. [cited 2018 Oct 25]. Available from: http://gco.iarc.fr/today/home
2. World Health Organization. Global health estimates summary tables: Projection of deaths by cause, age and sex, by World Bank regions [Internet]. Geneva, World Health Organization; 2013 [cited 2017 Apr 28]. Available from: http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/projections/en/