SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) was featured at last week’s Biden Cancer Summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, for its commitment to addressing Africa’s long under-recognized cancer epidemic through its African Access Initiative (AAI).
Facts about cancer in Africa were highlighted by BVGH President, Jennifer Dent, who spoke at the Summit:
- African women with breast cancer have poor outcomes due to the fact that they present younger and often too late; have more deadly tumor types; and do not have access to lifesaving breast cancer medicines.
- Men of African descent are disproportionately affected by prostate cancer at a younger age.
- Cervical cancer rates are four times higher in Africa than in the United States.
- Liver cancer rates are 50% higher in Africa than in the United States.
“Although the global community has made impressive strides in battling malaria and other devastating diseases in Africa, progress against cancer has been negligible. In Africa, cancer is almost always a death sentence,” said Dent.
BVGH launched AAI with the vision of creating a new, and truly sustainable, partnership model among African governments, industry, academia, and oncology healthcare professionals to transform cancer patient care in Africa. Driven by the self-defined needs of African partners, AAI currently engages 33 hospitals across Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden founded the Biden Cancer Initiative and hosted the September 21 Biden Cancer Summit with the aim of doubling the rate of progress against cancer. “We are at an inflection point in the understanding and treatment of cancer and are starting to break down barriers and change the culture in ways that are needed to deliver what patients deserve – a cancer research and care system that puts saving lives above all else. The commitments we have received, including AAI, bring us closer to developing the right systems, the right culture to get us there,” said Vice President Biden.
During the Summit, Dent articulated AAI’s vision of quadrupling progress against cancer in Africa by establishing partnerships around access to diagnostic technologies and innovative, high-quality medicines. Through AAI, oncology teams in Africa will be empowered to better prevent and diagnose cancer, perform surgery, deliver radiotherapy, and prescribe high-quality medicines. She announced BVGH’s recent completion of comprehensive needs assessments for 25 AAI hospitals and BVGH’s commitment to address the identified needs, including:
- A pilot drug access program with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, through which pharmaceutical companies will provide FDA-approved medicines for common cancers (blood, breast, cervical, colorectal, head and neck, liver, and prostate) to eight Nigerian hospitals under mutually agreeable terms. Professor Isaac Adewole, Honorable Minister of Health, issued a request for proposals (RFP) today to select company CEOs, soliciting their commitments to deliver cancer medicines to Nigeria.
- Training opportunities for African oncology professionals, such as placements of oncology experts at Kenyan and Rwandan hospitals, and stakeholder meetings of Nigerian and American oncologists to align on treatment guidelines and create mentorship linkages.
- Placement of critical laboratory instruments to enable efficient, accurate cancer diagnoses and inform development of appropriate treatment plans.
- Implementation of the African Consortium for Cancer Clinical Trials (AC3T) to build oncology clinical trial experience and generate important data in African ethnicities while fast-tracking patient access to cancer diagnostics and treatment regimens.
Nigeria’s First Lady of Ondo State, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu—founder of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) and a breast cancer survivor—represented the country and AAI by hosting a Biden Cancer Community Summit. A fellow breast cancer survivor shared her story, and Mrs. Anyanwu-Akeredolu described how BRECAN is helping Nigerian patients address the challenges that they face in their cancer journeys. The AAI Community Summit was one of more than 450 hosted the day of the Biden Cancer Summit, and one of the few outside of the United States and its territories.
“We know that cancer hits harder, and often earlier, in patients of African descent compared to patients of other ethnicities,” said Dr. Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Olopade, Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago. “For example, triple-negative breast cancer—a highly aggressive tumor with poor outcomes—is more common in African and African-American women than in Caucasian-American women.” Similarly, according to Dr. Timothy Rebbeck, Vincent L. Gregory, Jr. Professor of Cancer Prevention and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, “men of African ancestry have higher rates of prostate cancer and are more likely to die of the disease than men of other races.”
“There has been insufficient allocation of resources to understand the root causes in order to develop innovative interventions to reduce the mortality gap. Without access to quality cancer care and universal health insurance, vulnerable populations of African ancestry will continue to die prematurely from treatable cancers,” Dr. Olopade stated.
About BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH)
BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization working at the crossroads of the private and public sectors to advance research and improve health. BVGH connects people, resources, and ideas across biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, governments, and non-profits to solve global health issues. For more information about BVGH, please visit http://www.bvgh.org/.