1ST ANNUAL AFRICAN BREAST CANCER CONFERENCE (AABCC) IN ABUJA, NIGERIA FROM MARCH 18TH - 19TH, 2008 COMMUNIQUE PREAMBLE The 1st Annual Africa Breast Cancer Conference took place at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Abuja, Nigeria. The conference was organized by Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation with support from Novartis Oncology. It had Speakers who are specialists in the field of breast cancer from all parts of the world- USA, Europe, Africa and Nigeria. However, we had in attendance 212 delegates and participants consisting of health professionals, advocates, pharmaceutical companies, government representatives, media practitioners and breast cancer survivors. Most African countries attended the conference and gave reports on the outlook of breast cancer in their countries.There was strong support from the Nigerian government : the Nigerian President, Vice President, Legislators, Service Chiefs & Wives, Governors & Wives were present and represented. ISSUES RAISED Cancer of the breast is the commonest cancer in females or second after cervical cancer worldwide. It is the leading cause of death from cancers among women in the developing world. In Africa, women with this cancer commonly present in the advanced stages when no cure can be achieved. The treatment is usually by mastectomies combined with cytotoxic drugs which are very expensive for an average African woman. Radiotherapy is given to those that have access to it and are able to foot the bills. In Nigeria for instance Radiotherapy centers are found in only about four tertiary hospitals! This is grossly inadequate for a country of 140 million people. However, in most African countries, there is non – existence of a single Radiotherapy equipment. The causes of breast cancer are not known so prevention is not an alternative. The only remedy therefore is early detection through screening. There is lack of awareness of screening among the populace and where the screening is available; most women do not present themseves for the screening programme. Others cannot afford the screening (Mammographic). Screening by breast self examination or clinical breast examination have been shown not to reduce the mortality rate of breast cancer substantially. The only way forward is by screening for early detection. Mammographic Screening is carried out in some centers in Nigeria with the Supply of equipments by the Federal Government. However, this is not a well coordinated programme but patients can come and pay for the screening. However, in most African countries, they even lack the Screening Machines. There is paucity of trained personnel to use these equipments. RECOMMENDATIONS There is a need to support advocacy in Africa to create the necessary awareness among the people about the need for mass screening for breast cancer. This actually is a very important point and must be taken seriously? There is a greater need to involve the Communities, Health Professionals, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Faith -Based Organizations in the planning and information dissemination at all levels. Breast cancer is not receiving the appropriate attention it should have when compared with HIV/AIDS. It is therefore stressed that Breast cancer be given appropriate attention in terms of publicity, funding and research. Breast Cancer should be placed on the African Health Agenda to attract the very much needed attention that it richly deserves. It is time for African Governments to establish programmes that will reduce the mortality rate from Breast cancer. Mammographic breast cancer screening should be a must and African governments should work towards that. NGOs and Corporate Organizations have a big role to play as Governments cannot do everything. Quality control and standards are the functions of the governments and without quality control; Mammographic screening profitability cannot be achieved. Breast cancer management is a multidisciplinary activity, therefore appropriate breast cancer teams need to be formed at each cancer center where a mammography unit is place. In Africa, Mammography screening can be started if the personnel have adequate clinical exposure. The African governments and philanthropists can sponsor these trainings if they are committed to reducing the burden of breast cancer deaths. Breast Cancer treatment is expensive and unaffordable to most victims in Africa. Pharmaceutical Companies should consider it a priority to find a way of making drugs available by extending their patient assistant programmes to Africa. Individuals, Organisations and African governments should develop systems of making breast cancer drugs available to the victims. There should be clinical trials and research on breast cancer in Africa given the type of aggressive tumors that are found among the victims in the continent. CONCLUSIONS / RESOLUTIONS There is a need to involve everyone: Health Professionals, NGOs, FBOs and the Communities in the awareness of breast cancer in Africa. The cost of screening mammography should be drastically reduced, NGOs and private individuals can purchase the consumables required and supplied freely to screening centers when formed. The time has come for Mammographic breast cancer screening programme in Africa as part of routine medical check-up. There should be concerted efforts by scientists and pharmaceutical companies,to bring clinical trials and research on breast cancer to Africa. Breast Cancer should be placed on the African Health Agenda to attract the very much needed funding from African governments. Africa is very grateful to the sponsors of this conference – Novartis Oncology for its leadership role in supporting the 1st Annual Africa Breast Cancer Conference in Abuja, Nigeria. The vision of the conference was aptly captured in the concluding words of Prof. Clement Adebamawo: “I see the Annual Africa Breast Cancer Conference becoming the San Anthonio Breast Cancer Conference of Africa”. This is what we hope to achieve in the future. The 2nd Annual Africa Breast Cancer Conference will hold in Egypt from 16th – 17th March, 2009.
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