Senegal To Offer Free Breast And Cervical Cancer Treatments

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
cervical cancer
Senegalese Dr. Abdoul Aziz Kasse, who specializes in cancer treatment, sits at his desk at the Clinique des Mamelles in Dakar, Senegal, Thursday, July 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Jane Hahn)

The Senegalese government is planning to fund the treatment of the two most common cancers affecting women in the country.  

Senegal is expected to provide access to free breast or cervical cancer chemotherapy in public hospitals starting in October 2019, according to SABC.

The government plans to reimburse 60 percent of the costs for the treatment of other types of cancers.

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The World Health Organization estimates that HPV infections cause approximately 68,000 cases of cervical cancer each year in Africa.

Thirty-four out of 100,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 23 out of 100,000 women die from it every year in Africa.

“We are relieved because these (cervical and breast cancer) are the most common types of cancers affecting women here,” says Dr Fatma Guenoun, president of the Senegalese Anti-Cancer League.

The Senegalese government has allocated an estimated $1.6 billion for this initiative, Africa News Network reports.

In 2015, the government agreed to cover at least 30 percent of the cost of treating all cancers. 

A number of challenges have held Senegal back from effectively and affordably treating cancer. 

While 15 million people live in Senegal, only a handful of doctors focus on cancer so care is scarce for those suffering from it. Advanced cancer treatment resources such as radiotherapy machines are also in short supply.

Rwanda, Namibia and Seychelles have started to provide free cancer care in their national efforts to achieve universal health coverage, Africa News Network reports. Tanzanian cancer patients have a right to be treated for free once they are diagnosed.