Islamic Development Bank /

Call for Innovation: Saving Women’s Lives from Cancer

Global Partnerships to Improve the Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast and Cervical Cancer in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Worldwide, more than 8.6 million women suffer, and many others die from largely preventable and treatable cancers. This situation is even more pronounced in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), where 61% of cases and 70% of these deaths in 2018.

Except for some countries in Eastern and Central Africa, where cervical cancer dominates, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.

According to estimates of the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC), over 2 million new breast cancer cases occurred in women and over 600,000 women died in 2018; equivalent to one woman dying every minute.

For cervical cancer (cancer caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV), about 570,000 women were diagnosed and more than 310,000 died in 2018; equivalent to one woman dying every hundred seconds. With almost 90% of new cervical cancer cases and 92% of related deaths occurring in LMICs, the situation is reaching epidemic proportions. Most of these deaths could be avoided if prevention measures, proper cancer screening and treatment were in place.

The need to address women’s cancers as a matter of priority and to scale-up effective diagnosis and treatment has become pressing. Significant investments involving a broad range of partners in comprehensive cancer control are required and crucial to improving the quality of life of women affected by cancer while at the same time strengthening national health systems.

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been working over the recent decade to support common Member States in improving cancer control and expand access to effective, safe and sustainable cancer diagnostics and treatment services. This extensive collaboration has led to the realization that there was an urgent need to further expand the IsDB-IAEA partnership to forcefully tackle the issue of women’s cancers.