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Africa’s Silent Killer: CANCER…What You Need To Know!!

Filed under : Africa, Art & Culture, Lifestyle

In Africa, cancer used to be thought of as a disease that affected ‘Western countries”, so far removed from us.  Africa has faced many issues over the centuries that have plagued our souls and our subsequent development as a continent : slavery; colonialism; poverty; hunger; political instabilities…we now face a new and growing killer – cancer.

It’s no longer a matter of catching glimpses of people on our TV sets or changing the radio station whenever we hear of,(if at all), people wearing ‘pink ribbons’ or participating in walks for ’some cancer or the other’ on another continent.  It is now real; peering through our windows; knocking loudly on our front doors; claiming our loved ones; our role models; current and future leaders.

Consider the following as a few of many examples: the harrowing statistics of cervical cancer.  80% of cases occur amongst women in Southern Africa.  Breast cancer is the leading cancer affecting African women.  Meanwhile prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers affecting African men.  There is an unbreakable link between the ability of a nation to develop and the health of its people.  How can Africa build itself up as a nation, amongst the other battles it faces, without standing up tall and defiant, to prevent and reduce the risk of this disease?

These are several ways in which cancer affects the development of a healthy Africa:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) research shows that cancer is now the leading cause of death worldwide.
  • More than 70% of cancer deaths occur in low to middle income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where 80% of the continent’s inhabitants live without sufficient awareness of cancers affecting them as a people; insufficient awareness of how to adapt a healthier lifestyle and in countries where sources available for diagnosis and treatment are limited or non-existent .
  • The situation is exacerbated by the high number of infection-related cancers among HIV/AIDS patients, as well as the high costs of modern cancer treatment which most African patients cannot afford.

It is well-documented that most cancers are preventable through for example:  the education of individuals, particularly children and teenagers; through early screening; programmes for tobacco control; vaccinations for liver and cervical cancers; as well as adapting healthier eating habits and more regular physical activity.


More than 40% of cancers are preventable. Thus the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust, established in Zimbabwe, in May 2011, aims to be a part of reducing the number of deaths.  The ECCT’s objectives are to:

  • raise awareness of all cancers affecting us as a people – men, women & children;
  • raise awareness of healthier eating and fitness to reduce the risk of cancer and
  • to fundraise to help disadvantaged cancer sufferers.

In Zimbabwe alone, cancer is now the leading cause of death, above any other disease, including HIV/AIDS.  The vision is to help those throughout Africa as the ECCT grows.

October Awareness campaigns

  • The ECCT has partnered with The Art of Being Humane Foundation to launch monthly awareness campaigns from September 2011.
  • In support of Breast Cancer Awareness, the Art of Being Humane Foundation is hosting “Tickled Pink Happy Hours”, every Friday throughout October, which involve awareness-raising sessions in a friendly environment.
  • On 4 November 2011, ABHF/ECCT will host an Awareness-raising Day with information on breast and cervical cancers, plus an Exhibition which will showcase various women’s stories on cervical cancer at Alliance Francaise, Harare.
  • To get involved in raising awareness of breast cancer amongst African women, anyone anywhere in the world can join ECCT’s “Worldwide Pink Album” on Facebook.  Support the ECCT by uploading a picture of yourself on the ECCT page, wearing/holding something pink and state 1 breast cancer fact. Click here to see the album.
  • On 25 November 2011, tune in to DJ LadyB’s radio show on Zimnetradio 6pm (UK), to listen to a discussion on how cancer is affecting Zimbabwean women & what can be done.  The guests include a female cancer survivor, a health professional & Rudo Nyangulu, Founder of the Art of Being Humane Foundation.

ABHF/ECCT ladies collaboration for Cervical Cancer Awareness September 2011


  • See the ECCT blog for further info
  • Email Donna or Lynda at to attend “Tickled Pink” Fridays & to get involved in ECCT/ABH events

**Remember the ECCT will be raising cancers affecting both genders, 1 month at a time.  Wherever you are in the world, we can all make a difference.

Writer, Model, Founder of Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust

Teurai Chanakira – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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  • Mkiire

    Real eye opening article. Let us all play our part to support the great work that the ECCT is doing to increase awareness of this killer disease.

  • Peter Mawere

    Teurai:I really like it, the blog is very interesting and modern. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing with us.

  • Delta

    This awesome! Keep up the great work you’re doing!!