SA aims to be leader in disease fight

20 November 2013 - 02:34 By NIVASHNI NAIR

South Africa aims to be Africa's leader in cancer research and in improving prevention, diagnosis and management of the disease.

The African Cancer Institute, situated at the University of Stellenbosch's Faculty of Medical and Health Science, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Texas's MD Anderson Cancer Centre to collaborate on research and training programmes.

The dean of the faculty, Professor Jimmy Volmink, said: "Cancer is a neglected disease in Africa. We are sleepwalking into a tsunami of cancer .

"Most cancers are treatable and many are curable. Yet many people in Africa do not have access to basic diagnostic and treatment facilities. This is unacceptable and we need global advocacy to address this."

The institute's director, Professor Vikash Sewram, said cancer was the sixth-leading cause of mortality in South Africa .

He said the institute will "provide a strong platform for scholarly growth and knowledge production in pursuit of high-quality evidence-based cancer care".

He added that the institute's research will span "prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment or palliative care".

The institute aims to develop cost-effective and readily available diagnostic and prognostic technologies as well as discover new therapies to treat cancer.

MD Anderson Cancer Centre's global academic programmes director Dr Shubhra Ghosh said: "Cancer shows vast diversity across the geographic, ethnic, racial and cultural spectrum around the world."