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A Medical First to Deal with Africa’s Growing Cancer Rates

The first Moroccan-produced tests to diagnose breast cancer and leukaemia will become commercially available within months, cutting costs and waiting times for patients in the country and across Africa. Most of the diagnostic kits for cancer and other diseases in Africa are expensive imports from outside the continent, usually from Europe and the US. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Morocco and a leading cause of death among women. While global survival rates for those diagnosed early is high, a large percentage of breast cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries, including Morocco, are detected at a later stage. Africa’s reliance on imported tests, treatments and vaccines has been a pressing concern for health authorities on the continent since the Covid-19 pandemic. An estimated 70% of pharmaceutical products and up to 99% of vaccines used in African countries are imported. Development of the cancer kits has been under way since 2010, Sefrioui said, and the leukaemia tests have already been used in Morocco on 400 people. Previously, all samples would have to be sent to France for analysis, prolonging and delaying treatment.