ASCO Launches Regional Council to Support Quality Cancer Care in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sep 22, 2022

As part of the Society’s strategic goal to support the global delivery of quality cancer care, ASCO is pleased to announce the launch of a Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Council. This is the Society’s third regional council following the 2019 launch of the Asia Pacific Regional Council and the 2021 launch of the Latin America Regional Council.

ASCO has convened the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Council to help the Society address the specific needs and unique challenges faced by oncology professionals in the region. Council members, who are ASCO members practicing in West, East, and Southern Africa carefully selected by ASCO to offer a diversity of views related to their regions, will serve as representatives for their respective communities, help their colleagues get involved in ASCO’s global programs, and aid the Society in adapting ASCO programs to best support quality cancer care in the region.

“The Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Council will strive to leverage what ASCO and the African oncology community have to offer to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes—an example of global collaboration in research and patient-centered management of cancer,” said ASCO International Affairs Committee chair Verna Vanderpuye, MD. “Furthermore, the wider ASCO community stands to learn a lot from this council about the particular challenges and solutions in the cancer landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The council members met for the first time on August 26, 2022. In a lively discussion, they identified several priority challenges faced by physicians and patients in the region, including:

  • The critical importance of improving clinical cancer research opportunities in the region and improving inter-regional research collaborations, as well as addressing patient hesitation to participate in clinical trials
  • The need to address the multiple barriers to access to cancer treatment (both longstanding and newer therapies), including financial, geographic, and workforce barriers

To begin to examine these and other critical issues, the council will build on the experiences of ASCO’s other regional councils to engage in a series of planning discussions related to ASCO programs and initiatives. These may include:

  • Advising ASCO on the needs of and challenges in the region in terms of membership, education, professional development, research, and quality of care priorities
  • Increasing member engagement through activities such as volunteer opportunities; mentorship of early-career oncologists (through the International Development and Education Award [IDEA], Virtual Mentoring, and the Leadership Development Program, among others); and outreach to training programs in the region
  • Identifying and adapting ASCO programs and services that can be used to address regional challenges
  • Collaborating as a network of oncology leaders to network and develop solutions together

The Sub-Saharan Africa Regional council will meet virtually in December 2022 to begin discussing these topics and related projects and initiatives to work on. In the meantime, they will have the opportunity to share ideas with colleagues on the Asia Pacific and Latin America Regional Councils through ASCO’s myConnection community.

ASCO encourages its members in the region to engage with the work of the Sub-Saharan Regional Council by emailing to learn more about ASCO programs, receive an introduction to their community representative, and to suggest issues for the council’s consideration.

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