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Women Driving Impact for Sustainable Development in Africa: Women’s Summit addresses inequalities in women’s health

  • Africa has the highest percentage increase projection in cancer compared to other regions, and the prevalence of women’s cancers is higher than others
  • Only about 19% of the populations in Low-to-Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) have access to basic diagnostic testing
  • In an urgent effort to address the lack of access to diagnostics and care, Roche is hosting a panel at the African Women’s Summit in Cape Town on 11-12 May 2023, featuring an esteemed panel of women leaders from Africa both from the Public and Private Sectors

In an urgent effort to address the lack of access to women’s healthcare, Roche is hosting a panel at the African Women’s Summit in Cape Town on 11-12 May 2023, featuring an esteemed panel of women leaders from Africa – both from the Public and Private Sectors. According to projections, the worldwide incidence of new cancer cases is expected to increase from 18 million in 2018 to 29.5 million in 2040, with Africa experiencing the highest percentage increase compared to other regions. And the prevalence of women’s cancers is higher than others, with breast and cervical cancer causing high mortality rates in African women. But only about 19% of the populations in low-to-middle income countries (LMICs) have access to basic diagnostic testing.1,2

The 2023 Women’s Summit theme is “Women Driving Impact for Sustainable Development in Africa”. Merilynn Steenkamp, General Manager Southern Africa Multi-Country Network at Roche and panelist at the Summit, comments, “Roche knows that patients in Africa still do not have access to reliable diagnostics and treatment. We recognize that we have a responsibility to do something about it.”

Charmaine Timm-Milligan, Head of Policy and Partnerships at Roche Pharmaceuticals comments, “This summit serves as a call to action for women leaders in the private and public sectors to actively impact women’s healthcare and save lives. This can only happen if we combine our resources – both public and private – to drive access. Public and private sector partnerships are the key to overcoming inequities in access.”

Women are still the primary caregivers in most families, making 90% of the health care decisions. Women also largely serve as their communities’ caregivers, as over 70% of healthcare workers are women. But globally, more than 1,047,000 children became “maternal orphans,” over half of

which were orphans due to maternal deaths from breast (258,000, 25%) and cervical (210,000, 20%) cancers, with 35% of maternal orphans residing in Africa.3

The African Women Summit convenes annually to bring together a dynamic community of female policymakers, change makers, and experts from across Africa and the diaspora. During the two- day summit, attendees work together to address shared values and concerns unique to African women, collaborating on solutions to promote sustainable development throughout the continent.

Steenkamp concludes, “It is essential that we maximize this opportunity to mobilize private sector partners to take action as we get closer to the WHO’s 2030 goals for eliminating cervical and breast cancer. These are critical public health issues that can only be tackled collaboratively. We hope that the Summit will serve as a platform to mobilize public and private sector partners to do what is necessary to improve outcomes for our primary caregivers.”

To find out more about the upcoming Africa Women’s Summit 2023, visit https://africawomensummit.org/.

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