Sierra Leone’s First Lady Fatima Bio has on the 16th May 2024 called for an immediate action against cancer crisis in Africa at the High-Level Regional Seminar on cancer awareness and advocacy with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members in Abuja, Nigeria.

The theme of the seminar, “Innovative Approaches to Cancer Prevention and Early Detection,” set the stage for crucial discussions and collaborative efforts to address the growing cancer crisis in African nations and the seminar brought together key stakeholders, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and advocates from OIC member states to discuss innovative approaches to cancer prevention, early detection, and advocacy.

First Lady Fatima Bio expressed gratitude to the First Lady of Nigeria for convening this important gathering of first ladies from across the continent. She emphasized the urgency of the situation, highlighting that cancer has emerged as one of the top three causes of premature death. Her call to intensify efforts for the well-being of people across Africa struck a chord, igniting a sense of responsibility and unity among participants.

She emphasized the profound impact of cancer diagnoses not only on patients but also on their loved ones and communities. Highlighting the alarming statistics from the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Global Cancer Report of 2022, which estimated over 47,000 new cases of cancer in Sierra Leone alone, particularly focusing on breast and cervical cancers.

She highlighted President Bio’s government’s proactive steps, including engaging in collaborative efforts with international partners on capacity building, developing a national cancer control policy, and enacting crucial legislation such as the Tobacco and Nicotine Control Act of 2022.

Speaking on Sierra Leone’s Government’s effort in the fight she disclosed that President Bios government has demonstrated strong political will by initiating the establishment of a state-of-the-art cancer therapy centre, where visibility and structural design have been completed, and is now working with the IAEA to commence construction, aiming to provide optimal treatment and support to cancer patients.

The first lady also mentioned her own office’s participation in the fight through collaborations with organizations like the Mack Foundation, which has facilitated the training of 40 doctors in cancer treatment and palliative care, adding that, her office’s interventions have extended to providing assistance to cancer patients for treatment abroad, emphasizing the importance of accessible and quality healthcare services.

She called for unity and concerted efforts, emphasizing that action must be taken collectively by Africans to combat cancer effectively. Her impassioned plea underscores the critical need for collaborative strategies, innovative solutions, and unwavering determination in the fight against cancer in Sierra Leone and across the continent.