Alliance formed to support the fight against cancer in Sub Saharan Africa

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IBM, American Cancer Society (ACS), the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) have launched a new alliance called Allied Against Cancer. The alliance is expected to help improve access to high-quality cancer care and treatment.

It will achieve this by support a network of African oncology experts and technical assistance partners to help improve the quality of cancer care, including collaborating closely with the African Cancer Coalition to establish priorities and execute these initiatives locally.

Currently, there are more than 800,000 new cancer cases each year in Sub-Saharan Africa and incidence is projected to double by 2040. And as these countries address the growing cancer epidemic, data and emerging technologies can play a significant role in cancer treatment control and care. The need for more affordable cancer treatment and strong systems for their delivery are crucial to help improve patients’ survival.

Also, to address gaps in access to cancer medicines, ACS and CHAI teamed up in 2016 to bring lower prices for 16 common chemotherapy drugs to a half-dozen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. And top American oncologists have supported the African Cancer Coalition — comprising of 110 African oncologists representing 34 hospitals from 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa—to adapt cancer-treatment guidelines for use in African hospitals. The African Cancer Coalition, working with experts from NCCN, adapted the 46 NCCN Guidelines and NCCN Framework for Resource Stratification of NCCN Guidelines create the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa specifically to be used by oncologists across Sub-Saharan Africa. These guidelines have been endorsed by leading cancer centers or health ministries in six countries to date.

IBM on the other hand, developed an online tool called Cancer Guidelines Navigator to provide African oncology professionals with interactive access to the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa at no charge. Oncologists based in Sub Saharan Africa can input a clinical description for a cancer patient[1] — such as tumor type, stage, biomarker status, and prior treatments — into the online tool.  The Cancer Guidelines Navigator then points the user to relevant treatment options input from the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™. At this time, the tool includes NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for cervical cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and Kaposi sarcoma.

Professor Isaac Adewole, Co-chair of the African Cancer Coalition, had this to say, “To address the growing burden of cancer in Africa and worldwide, African oncologists need quick and easy access to current treatment options as well as quality, affordable treatment for their patients. This alliance provides an opportunity to strengthen the ties within the global oncology community in ways that can potentially deliver better outcomes for our patients.”

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