mutebi1_Jonathan Torgovnik for The Hewlett FoundationReportage by Getty Images_africahealth Jonathan Torgovnik/The Hewlett Foundation/Getty Images

Winning the Cancer War in Sub-Saharan Africa

Noncommunicable diseases are expected to overtake infectious diseases as the region's leading cause of death by 2030, following a sharp increase in cancer-related mortality. By investing in early detection measures like HPV vaccines and cervical cancer testing, African governments can save millions of lives.

NAIROBI – Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, kill 41 million people per year, with 77% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

In Sub-Saharan Africa, NCDs are now responsible for roughly 37% of deaths – up from 24% in 2000. Cancer is one of the top three diseases driving this increase, accounting for more than a half-million deaths in 2020. And this number is expected to double by 2030 if the current status quo is maintained.

As with other NCDs, many cases of cancer could be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol use and obesity, which contribute to more than 40% of all cancer deaths worldwide.