South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has established a ministerial advisory committee to act on the prevention and control of cancer in the country.
"The National Department of Health recognises that cancers, together with other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases, are leading causes of preventable mortality and morbidity in South Africa," the department said in a statement earlier this month.
It is estimated that cancer currently accounts for about 7% of deaths in South Africa, but that the number of cases is rising and interventions to deal with the problem are inadequate.
There are eight inaugural members of the committee, all experts on cancer from backgrounds including National Pathology Services and the National Cancer Registry.
Expert collaboration to benefit patients
They are Raymond Abratt, Kwanele Asante-Shongwe, Jennifer Moodley, Paul Ruff, Vikash Sewram, Nontuthuzelo Somdyala, Christina Stefan and Sue Janse van Rensburg.
Abratt is head of department of radiation medicine and head of radiation oncology at Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town; Asante-Shongwe runs a breast cancer advocacy group, BreastSens; Moodley is a senior lecturer in the Women's Health Research Unit at the University of Cape Town's School of Public Health and Family Medicine; and Ruff is head of medical oncology in Johannesburg's Charlotte Maxeke hospital.
Sewram is the director of the Oncology Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Unit; Somdyala is also from the Medical Research Unit and is a scientist in the Burden of Disease Research Unit; Stefan is a paediatric oncologist in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Stellenbosch University; and Janse van Rensburg is chief executive officer of the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa)
"The inputs from a range of authorities are critical," the department said.
It is expected that the committee will yield "productive, evidence-based engagement with experts including medical specialists, representatives of civil society and survivors".
"This committee will benefit the state to plan and implement comprehensive preventative, control and support services and more importantly benefit patients and their families by meeting their needs for quality care," the department said.