Source: International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA
Plans are well underway to build a national cancer centre in Djibouti – the first of its kind in a country that currently has no access to radiotherapy, a life-saving treatment estimated to help in approximately 50 per cent of all cancer cases. Djibouti’s Ministry of Health invited experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to conduct a comprehensive cancer assessment imPACT Review in the country in October 2023.
“Introducing radiotherapy is a top priority for our government,” said Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh, Minister of Health for Djibouti, “as it will reduce unnecessary deaths from cancer and enable our citizens to avoid having to travel abroad to receive the life-saving treatment they deserve.”
Out of Djibouti’s population of one million, it has been estimated that over 750 new patients were diagnosed with cancer and over 500 people died from the disease in the year 2020 alone (GLOBOCAN – IARC). These numbers are expected to increase by 70-80 per cent in the next twenty years due to delays in diagnosis and limited treatment options within the country. However, they are only estimates because the country does not currently have a population based cancer registry in place to provide reliable data – something experts from the mission pointed out as a priority action area. “A comprehensive health information system is essential for the government of Djibouti to be able to plan, monitor and evaluate the success of different cancer control strategies and take informed decisions,” confirmed Renee Van de Weerdt, Representative for the WHO Djibouti office.
Following data gathering and desk review, eight specialists from the IAEA, WHO and IARC travelled to Djibouti to assess the situation first hand. Experts were fielded from institutions based in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan underscoring the importance of regional cooperation in addressing pressing health priorities.