Cancer-related deaths in Africa could nearly double within the next six years if immediate measures are not taken, The East African reports. Describing the cancer situation in Africa as distressing, the World Health Organisation (WHO), warned that without prompt action, the annual number of cancer deaths in the region might soar to a staggering 1 million per year by 2030. ALSO READ: Rwandan doctors mull project to detect genes with potential cancer risks WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti lamented the alarming statistics. “The cancer situation in Africa is disheartening. In 2022, the region saw approximately 882,882 new cancer cases, resulting in about 573,653 deaths.” “If urgent measures are not taken, cancer mortality in the region is projected to reach about one million deaths per year by 2030,” said Moeti in a statement read on World Cancer Day in Nairobi. ALSO READ: How Rwanda Cancer Centre is saving hundreds of lives It is observed annually on February 4. “In 20 years, cancer death rates in Africa will overtake the global average of 30 percent,” she said. “More so because cancer survival rates in the WHO African region currently average 12 percent, much lower than the average of over 80 percent in High-Income Countries.” ALSO READ: Rwanda on track to eliminate cervical cancer - health experts Moeti emphasised the urgent need for high-impact interventions to reduce cancer caseloads and fatalities. Alarming figures Moeti pointed out that approximately 50 percent of new cancer cases among adults in Africa are due to breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, and liver cancers. She said these alarming figures underscore the urgent need for swift action to tackle the escalating cancer burden across the continent. She urged leaders to prioritise the prevention and care of cancer by making substantial investments. “Leaders and stakeholders must identify feasible priorities, implement evidence-based population-wide interventions and invest in cancer control,” Moeti said. ALSO READ: Rwanda to launch Africa centre against digestive cancer in October Moeti acknowledged the headway made in cancer prevention and care in the region noting that in promoting cancer prevention and care for a fair and cancer-free world, Moeti emphasized the necessity for visionary leadership. She advocated for ensuring equal access to cancer screening, treatment, and palliative care to extend lives, alleviate suffering, and prevent deaths. According to Moeti, although progress is being made, more urgent action is needed to boost access to prevention, screening services for early diagnosis and treatment. She added that leaders are responsible for ensuring value for money in cancer prevention and care by deploying technologies and therapies that are available at low cost to affected persons and their families. She emphasised the need for strengthened information systems for quality data for decision-making, and collaborations with civil society to achieve a cancer-free Africa. ALSO READ: Rwandan lawmaker on how he survived colon cancer “Countries should use the updated WHO Best Buys, the facilitative tool designed to enable governments to select lifesaving policies and interventions for non-communicable diseases,” she said.