The Africa Oxford Cancer Foundation (AfrOx) was established in 2007 by Prof. David Kerr (University of Oxford); Alan Milburn (UK Secretary of State for Health 1999-2003); Sir John Arbuthnot (former Chairman, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde); and Margaret Rodan (Investment Manager and Consultant).
AfrOx is playing a leading coordinating role in encouraging international collaboration to support the improvement of cancer care in Africa.
In May 2007 AfrOx organized the African Cancer Reform Convention to raise awareness of the magnitude of the cancer burden in Africa. The aim of this meeting was to create, in partnership with African Ministers of Health, an evidence-based, sustainable and resource appropriate action plan to enable the delivery of comprehensive cancer control to African countries.
The meeting was attended by over 120 delegates including African health ministers or their representatives; African doctors and health professionals; leading international oncologists; members of the UK parliament; the World Health Organization; international cancer organizations and charities; international donor agencies; and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry.
The African health ministers and their representatives, who were present at the meeting, agreed unanimously that there has been an explosion in cancer incidence. They stated that they would welcome the support of the international oncology community in tackling the growing cancer epidemic.
All 120 delegates at the meeting signed the London Declaration which calls for immediate action to bring comprehensive cancer care to African countries.
The African Cancer Reform Convention gave a clear and positive message that the time for concerted action against cancer in Africa has come - thereby laying to rest the myth that the only health priorities in Africa are infectious disease.
Ghana is the first country that AfrOx is partnering with. Ghana has a population of 23 million which is served by only two oncology centres, one in the capital Accra and one in Kumasi. There are only 4 oncologists in the country and no specialist cancer nurses.
AfrOx has been working on a range of programmes in Ghana in close consultation with the needs identified by the Ministry of Health, NGOs and health professionals in Ghana. We hope that our programmes in Ghana will serve as a template that could be adapted for other African countries.
AfrOx's priorities in Ghana include:
- Support for national cancer care planning.
- Provision of training and education of healthcare staff.
- Improvement in palliative care.
- Cancer prevention through screening and vaccination.
- The early diagnosis and treatment of children's cancer.
- Raising public awareness of the early signs of cancer and methods of cancer prevention.