Combatting Cancer in South Africa

Each year 8.2 million people die from cancer, 4 million of those prematurely between the ages of 30 and 69 years 1

More than 60% of the world’s new annual cancer cases occur in the Low Income (LIC) and Lower-Middle Income (LMIC) countries of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, with these regions accounting for 70% of cancer deaths worldwide. 2

In Africa the situation is compounded by a lack of awareness, lack of access to care, insufficient funding and healthcare capacity challenges. 3

The impact of these challenges is often a late diagnosis which, when coupled with reduced access to care, results in an unacceptably high level of mortality, much of which could be prevented. 3

“Lack of awareness for disease and healthcare options keeps patients from accessing care. Investing in better knowledge sharing could have a great impact on the future of cancer care in Africa”  

Dr. Elud Njuguna, Head of Cancer Treatment Centre, Kenyatta National Hospital   3

For more than 50 years Roche has been developing medicines with the goal of redefining the treatment in oncology.

As global leaders in oncology, we are committed to partnering with organisations and supporting initiatives that foster the same goals of improving oncology care for all.

World Cancer Day is one such initiative.

This initiative takes place on the 4th of February 2017. The primary objective of World Cancer Day is to get as many people as possible around the globe talking about cancer on that day. 1

By raising awareness, educating about the disease, engaging with governments and businesses to drive improved care, and encouraging individuals to take responsibility for their own health, the hope of the campaign is to significantly slow the growth of the disease globally.

Additionally, Roche is now a signatory to the new Access Accelerated global initiative which was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on the 18th of January 2017.

This initiative will see 22 biopharmaceutical companies partnering with the World Economic Forum and The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), to work together to develop measures and replicate sustainable programs in low and lower middle income countries that will focus on reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases.  4

Locally, in South Africa, Roche is involved in a number of initiatives aimed at improving quality and access to care.

These include the upgrading and modernisation of the Charlotte Maxeke Pharmacy and Oncology Unit, as well as the upgrade of the Oncology Unit of the National Hospital in the Free State Province.

Our innovative medicines and diagnostic tests are only meaningful if they reach the people who need them, when they need them – no matter where they live. This is why the Access Accelerated initiative is so important.

Severin Schwan, Roche 4

Additionally Roche South Africa has supported the below organisations who provide education, support and advocacy services to cancer patients.

·         Campaigning for Cancer

·         Pink Drive  

·         The Sunflower Fund  

·         Advocates for Breast Cancer

·         The Cancer Alliance

Roche also supports cancer awareness and education on the Phelophepa Health train. The Phelophepa Health train is a Roche sponsored health train that travels through South Africa’s rural areas in an effort to bring health services to South Africa’s most impoverished areas. . Roche is a founding member of the Phelophepa health train since 1994. On an annual basis, the Phelophepa train runs health awareness campaigns on various cancers through its journey. The train kicked off this years’ cancer education in Swartkops, Eastern Cape, with an awareness campaign in February, which coincided with World Cancer Day. To read more about the Phelophepa Health Train,

To find out more about Roche’s involvement in Supporting Cancer Patients you can access our Corporate Responsibility platform or contact us here

To find out more about World Cancer Day or to get involved you can visit; or get involved by visiting @worldcancerday, # worldcancerday and #WecanIcan


Articles of Interest

Expanding access to cancer care in Africa

Partnership to Improve Breast Cancer Care Launches in Kenya

Roche signs agreement to work with Côte d'Ivoire government

Roche and the Gabon Ministry of Health announce partnership to improve healthcare


Social Media Links of Interest