Cancer Crisis in Africa Prompts BVGH’s New African Access Initiative

Cancer kills more people in Africa each year than malaria

Cancer increasingly overwhelms African health care systems

Hospitals lack access to medicines widely available elsewhere

SEATTLE--()--BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), which enlists the capabilities of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries to tackle critical global health needs, today announced it will expand its programs to address the emerging cancer crisis in Africa. The African Access Initiative (AAI) will provide affordable, sustainable access to cancer therapeutics, enhance healthcare capacity, and foster cancer research in Africa. BVGH will launch its new initiative at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention in San Diego on June 21, 2017.

“The global health community has made important headway in tackling infectious diseases such as malaria in Africa, yet we are seeing an alarming rise in cancer and other non-communicable diseases,” said Jennifer Dent, President of BVGH. “The BVGH team will leverage our strong industry relationships, African networks, and capacity-building programs to help local healthcare professionals gain access to the cancer medicines they need and deliver educational, diagnostic, and treatment services in their communities.”

“Healthcare has come a long way in Africa, but as we make inroads into some of the infectious diseases that have so plagued the continent, we must refocus our vision on the non-communicable diseases, especially cancer, that affects millions of people globally,” said Professor and Honorable Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, Nigeria. “We must take action now to build infrastructure and develop sustainable means to provide access to cancer treatments in Africa. Our partnership with BVGH is an important step down this path.”

Cancer kills 50% more Africans than malaria. GLOBOCAN reported the number of Africans who died from cancer in 2015 was 635,404. By comparison, malaria killed 394,680 Africans according to the World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report 2016. The WHO expects cancer deaths in Africa will nearly double in the next two decades, while malaria is projected to continue to decline on the continent. African healthcare leaders are turning their attention to cancer and non-communicable diseases as they see the rise in cancer cases is already overwhelming many existing healthcare systems. Most African countries do not even have adequate radiation centers to treat patients. Some countries have none and lack the specialized skills necessary to deliver radiation therapy. Dramatic disparities in patient outcomes are the norm in Africa compared to middle and higher income countries. For example, 5-year net survival from breast cancer is 90% in the US, vs. 12% in Gambia.

"Understanding Africa's cancer crisis is the first step in finding innovative ways of overcoming the current health systems' challenges on the continent," said Dr. Cristina Stefan, president-elect of the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC). "Partnerships and collaboration with international organizations are essential in advancing and sustaining a better health care with access to oncology medicine for all Africans, as well as for responsible teaching, training and research."

The initial phase of AAI will involve one to three hospitals in each of six African countries – Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal. BVGH will assess the cancer treatment and R&D needs of each participating hospital and country; engage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with complementary capabilities, priorities and interests; and broker innovative partnership and custom pricing agreements among the hospitals, governments, and companies to address the identified needs. Details of the AAI program along with a joint BVGH/AORTIC white paper on the state of cancer care in Africa will be presented at the BIO meeting in June.

BVGH will also be hosting its third annual Africa Pavilion at the BIO Convention, featuring representatives from AORTIC, the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Networks of Excellence, the East African Health Research Commission (EAHRC), and leading African research organizations. Participation in the 2017 Africa Pavilion will represent 24 African countries.

About BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH)

BVGH is a results-oriented nonprofit organization based in Seattle, Washington, USA whose mission is to engage private industry in global health initiatives. BVGH engages global health stakeholders in partnerships to accelerate the development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics that address the unmet medical needs of the developing world. Working at the crossroads of the biopharmaceutical industry and global health, BVGH creates customized programs that fit the needs and capacity of partners and impact health in measurable ways.

About the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC)

AORTIC seeks to become the Continent’s pre-eminent non-profit organisation working for cancer control. AORTIC will achieve this through the facilitation of research and training as well as the provision of relevant and accurate information on the prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, and palliation of cancer. Our organisation is dedicated to providing all Africans with these benefits, as well as to increasing public awareness of cancer and reducing the stigma associated with it.


BIO Ventures for Global Health
Jennifer Dent, 1-206-732-2131


BIO Ventures for Global Health
Jennifer Dent, 1-206-732-2131