Senegal’s government says that women suffering from breast or cervical cancer will be offered free chemotherapy in public hospitals from the beginning of October.
“We are relieved because these are the most common types of cancers affecting women here,” Dr Fatma Guenoun, president of the Senegalese Anti-Cancer League said.
For other types of cancers, 60% of the costs will be reimbursed, the government says.
“This is an appropriate measure and will hopefully reduce mortality and help alleviate poverty,” a medical officer with the World Health Organization said.
Dr Barango Prebo says other countries on the continent, like Rwanda, Namibia and Seychelles, also offer free chemotherapy.
An estimated $1.6bn has been allocated by the Senegalese government for this new measure. Already, in 2015, the government agreed to cover at least 30% of the cost of treating all cancers.
But many other obstacles remain when it comes to effectively and affordably treating cancer. For example, Dr Guenoun believes more mammograms, which detect the presence of breast cancer, need to be offered to women in Senegal.
Finally, the public and among healthcare providers need to be educated on the treatments available, according to Dr Anderson.