Advocacy Toolkit #9

The Facts

The inequities that are a reality for cancer patients around South Africa are being driven by a severely-embattled public health system, constrained by inadequate funding, along with a shortage of technically-skilled oncology staff required to effectively deliver this highly complex treatment. The situation is exacerbated by the high cost of technology to provide essential radiotherapy services throughout South Africa. Non-profit organisations that have stepped in to fill the gaps are themselves hampered by resource shortages and limited skills, rendering them unable to adequately meet the needs of our cancer population.

The HIV/Aids pandemic, for example, triggered a significant response from the private sector – both the for-profit and not-for-profit parts – which resulted in a dramatic increase in donor-funded, health-related activities. These benefits have not however been replicated in other healthcare areas, such as cancer care, in spite of the fact that cancer took the lives of nearly 60 000 South Africans in just one year, in 2015. [1]

The same year, a further 114 091 people were diagnosed with cancer – yet South Africa still doesn’t have the firm donor-funded and health-related agreements for cancer which were achieved post-democracy in the field of HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.


  • The declaration of cancer as a priority disease to achieve vital subsidization and dedicated, ring-fenced financial investment for not only treatment and care, but also for research and proper support services for all South Africans. 
  • Public-private partnerships that boost care quality throughout the continuum of cancer care. 
  • Private sector assistance with cancer technology and expertise otherwise unavailable to the public sector. 
  • A centralized national plan to drive cancer care collaborations, and prevent duplication of services.


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