Ethiopia commemorated World Cancer Day under the global theme “We can. I can.” by inaugurating a comprehensive cancer treatment center in Addis Ababa in Woreda Eight Health Center on 6 February 2016. The center is the first ever at woreda (district) level and second in the country Black Lion Specialized Hospital.
Dr. Paul Mainuka, Acting WHO Representative to Ethiopia said on the occasion that Cancer is becoming a major public health challenge responsible for over 8 million deaths annually worldwide. In Africa, 715, 000 new cancer cases and 542,000 cancer deaths occurred in 2008.
“As we inaugurate this cancer center, we are announcing that WE CAN! We can help restore health, hope and life to hundreds of Ethiopians and their families,” Dr Paul Mainuka said. He also appreciated the governments’ commitment and the incorporation of non-communicable diseases and cancer strategy in the country’s Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP). “WHO remains committed to work with the government in the prevention and control of cancer and will continue to provide technical support to address the increasing burden of the disease,” Dr Mainuka concluded.
Dr. Kesetebrihan Admassu, Minister of Health, said that cancer affects more than 60,000 Ethiopians every year and that the launching of the center will contribute to increasing access to treatment for many of these. Dr Kesete also confirmed the commitment of the Ethiopian Government strengthening the health system to ensure access to timely treatment. The center will serve cancer patients who would otherwise have to wait months for treatment at Black Lion Hospital.
The Government is collaborating with other institutes, including Haramaya, Hawassa, Mekele and Jimma universities to establish comprehensive cancer treatment centers.
Guest of Honor First Lady Roman Tesfaye said that the opening of the new cancer center eases the huge burden that the Black Lion Specialized Hospital has carried for long and is a stepping stone towards strengthening fight against cancer.
She also commended cancer societies for their advocacy about cancer, and the Ministry of Health and Addis Ababa City Administration for their roles in the establishment of the center. “We have to work hard to expand many more cancer centers to improve the health of the public. We must also engage in awareness creation on cancer and its prevention,” The First Lady said.
The center was constructed by Black Lion Hospital jointly with the Ministry of Health and will provide comprehensive cancer treatment including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The center has the capacity to provide diagnosis and treatment services to up to 85 patients daily.
WHO will continue providing technical support to the Ministry of Health in the implementation of non-communicable diseases prevention and control programs, including the prevention and treatment of cancer.