Africa faces a shortage of oncologists

The lack of cancer specialists and the cost of treatment in Africa limit patients’ access to early diagnosis and treatment, according to a new study.

Research findings published in the Journal of Infectious Agents and Cancer have revealed that countries like Lesotho, Benin, Gambia, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone do not have oncologists while Malawi, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, and Togo have fewer than 10 cancer specialists.

The report also showed that an oncologist would see at least 25 patients a day.

Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist. The name’s etymological origin is the Greek word ὄγκος, meaning “tumor”, “volume” or “mass” and the word λόγος, meaning “study”

While the cancer burden on the continent is growing rapidly due to the limited infrastructure of health systems, lack of staff and the high cost of treatment, 80% of patients are diagnosed late.

It is estimated that more than one million new cases of cancer are reported each year on the continent and this number is expected to reach 2 million over the next 21 years if nothing is done.

Health experts are asking governments to improve the oncologist-patient ratio as well as the health system to strengthen the wide variety of cancer care systems that are needed across the continent, according to Rhoda Odhiambo, Health Journalist at BBC Africa

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