64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

Cancer Indicators Reporting in Africa: A Review of Availability, Completeness of Data, and Recommendations for The Future.


64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

Format: CPS Abstract

Keywords: cancer research, data systems, evidenced-based decision-making, health indicators, open-source data

Session: CPS 49 - Statistics and health II

Tuesday 18 July 4 p.m. - 5:25 p.m. (Canada/Eastern)


According to ongoing studies, Africa is currently facing an exponential increase in cancer incidence rates. These incident rates are predicted to double over the next decade, with the numbers expected to grow to more than a million in the next 5 years. Research on the epidemiology of cancers, improving oncology patients’ experience, palliative care, and data capture in oncology is hitting ground-breaking levels in other continents, but lagging in Africa. As a result, the continent has missed opportunities in making innovative progress toward the prevention, management, and care of cancers. Outdated data systems, non-standardized data capture methods, and limited investment in human resource and infrastructure has been previously reported. This presents findings from a review of cancer-related health indicators data submitted by countries, discussing the availability, completeness of data, and recommendations for the future.

This study uses open-source data from The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) database, which collates verified country-specific data on various indicators that can be used to enable research and decision-making. Specifically, data used in this study focused on extracting cancer-related indicators from World Health Organization’s health indicators that the National Health Systems report. The data covered the first reported submission (1961) to the last update (2020), where available. Data were reshaped for each country and completeness frequency was computed for each year.

Data from all 54 countries was publicly available, with varying overall availability. A total of 14 indicators available and submitted on the platform were reviewed for completeness over the years. These included age-standardized death rates, the probability of dying between the age of 30-70 from any cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory disease, general availability of colon & breast cancer screening at the primary health care level, the existence of population-based cancer registry, the existence of operational policy/strategy/action plan for cancer, most widely used screening method in the national cervical cancer screening program, coverage of national cervical cancer screening program (%), among others. Availability and completeness of the data for each country were computed as a proportion of submitted data for each year.

Conclusion and recommendations:
The findings show that more needs to be done to centralize data systems to enhance and improve cancer research in Africa. The unavailability of several critical indicators is indicative of a potential crisis in Africa where decisions that impact such a crucial healthcare factor – the monitoring, prevention, management, and treatment of cancer is not based on substantive empirical data. Expansion and standardization of the list of such comparable indicators, modern data capture methods, regular updates of existing data systems, and learning from advanced countries with robust cancer registry databases form part of the technical recommendations from the findings. Public sensitization on the risks and benefits of collecting such data also forms non-technical recommendations from the study. These will form part of the collective effort to advance cancer research in Africa and fuel innovative solutions to the prevention and management of cancer in Africa