The Cancer Alliance is a collective group of cancer control non-profit organisations and cancer advocates brought together under a common mandate, to provide a platform of collaboration for cancer civil society to speak with one voice and be a powerful tool to affect change for all South African adults and children affected by cancer.

How We Work


The objectives of the Cancer Alliance are expressed in our Strategic Plan for 2018 as:

  1. Ensure that cancer becomes a national priority
  2. Promote surveillance and research
  3. Improve services for cancer prevention and control
  4. Strengthen human resources for cancer interventions throughout the healthcare system
  5. Strengthen technology, equipment, vaccines, medicine and infrastructure for cancer
  6. Reduce stigma and discrimination for cancer patients and survivors
  7. Increase engagement within the cancer community


The Cancer Alliance is managed by the Executive Committee (EXCO), which is elected by and drawn from our member organizations. All EXCO members contribute their time and effort on a voluntary basis, and are supported by their own organizations where necessary.

Cancer Alliance Members pay an annual membership fee which is used for minimal day to day expenses.


The Cancer Alliance does not compete with its own members in fund raising. Our projects are funded by grants and donations made by organizations, usually to support a specific objective of the Cancer Alliance.

Recent funding has been received from the following organizations for our advocacy objectives:

  • Lace Up for Cancer – An annual fundraising and awareness initiative for World Cancer Day, conducted by the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa in Cape Town.
  • One Step at a Time – An annual fundraising and awareness initiative for World Cancer Day conducted by the Breast Health Foundation in Johannesburg.
  • Open Society Foundations (OSF) (US) – A two year grant (Feb 2018 -Feb 2020) for our Access to Medicine (A2M) campaign. Our major report Exploring Patent Barriers to Cancer Treatment Access in SA: 24 Medicine Case Studies was also funded by a previous grant from OSF (US).
  • Zoetis South Africa (Pty) Ltd / Hinterland SA (Pty) Ltd – (2018) A donation resulting from their own internal PINK campaign over a period of 2 years to create cancer awareness in the agricultural sector.
2011 Voice Of Cancer Survivor Forum
In May 2011 the Voice of Cancer Survivor Forum was held in Cape Town to create an opportunity for cancer survivors to express their needs regarding quality of care, attitudes, practices, policies of cancer control and services in South Africa This Forum sought to bring together those affected by cancer: cancer survivors, media, NGOs, advocates, the health sector and Government to provide data, information and awareness of the cancer burden and issues faced by South Africans and in doing so sparked an impetus by all to affect change.

From the outset, the Forum aimed to:

  • Provide qualitative and quantitative information clearly highlighting the cancer burden in South Africa as well as focusing on access to treatment, care and quality of life.
  • Discuss the social issues relating to cancer in South Africa by creating an encouraging platform for survivors, of all cultures and ages, to share their stories.
  • Make stakeholders, government and the general public aware of the need for national strategies to increase and improve cancer related services.
  • Discuss channels that could encourage multi-level stakeholder involvement in the development and implementation of national strategies to improve cancer-related services.

The meeting included presentations from local experts in cancer burden and social stigma. Themes of economics, political will and ethical practice were also addressed by Key Opinion Leaders. Survivors and advocates spoke of the challenges faced in their cancer journey, civil society and government highlighted existing intervention in cancer control. Survivors and advocates spoke with one voice to an audience of government leaders, healthcare professionals, corporate heads and individual members of their community.

National Call to Action
During the Forum meeting, civil society’s declaration of unity was based on the founding principle that it would be disrespectful of the courage and conviction shown by each survivor telling their story not to develop a call to action that would act as a mandate to guide all actions that strive to ensure a better journey for all cancer survivors.

As a result all 200 stakeholder representatives attending the Forum committed to taking collaborative action against the threat cancer poses to our health system by adding their voice to a National Call to Action, which was seen as the Forum’s key outcome.

The following themes were outlined in the National Call to Action:

  1. To ensure that Cancer becomes a National Priority
  2. The development of a National Cancer Control Plan
  3. The improvement of Cancer Registries and Data
  4. To ensure Investment and Funding for Education, Training and Infrastructure
  5. To Reduce Stigma and Discrimination for cancer patients and survivors

It was envisaged that this commitment to the National Call to Action would promote activities by each cancer civil society group to actively find strategies, develop leadership and implement actions that will create a collective voice against cancer.

The Cancer Alliance has adopted the themes of the National Call to Action as the starting point for the development of its goals and programmes

Cancer Charter

1. Preamble

We the undersigned, in order to better combat the human and socio-economic toll of the cancer group of diseases; hereby agree to the principles contained in this Founding Cancer Charter.

Download Cancer Charter

2. Statements

2.1 We are deeply troubled by the profound impact of cancer on millions of human lives, and on productivity and development in South Africa.

2.2 Cancer is a critical public health problem and must be established as a priority matter on the South African public health agenda.

2.3 The humanitarian treatment of people with cancer must be promoted.

2.4 Access to quality health care is a basic human right.

2.5 South African health care resources are currently limited, and must be distributed wisely, equitably, and in a sustainable manner

2.6 Government should allocate cancer prevention and care resources appropriate to the relative human and economic burden of these diseases.

2.7 Currently achievable improvements in cancer survival remain unrealised due to insufficient emphasis on prevention and screening.

2.8 Patients, along with their caregivers and families, play an extremely important role in the management of cancer. They must be encouraged to become active participants in the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

2.9 A permanent and powerful alliance – among patients, caregivers and families, health professionals, researchers, government, funders, industry, media and the broader community – must be established to conquer cancer and the greatest obstacles to overcoming cancer: fear, ignorance and complacency.

3. Bill of Rights

We affirm the following fundamental rights for all persons affected by cancer regardless of their age, sex, gender, insurance or health status, marital status, disability, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, conscience, belief, educational, social or economic background.

3.1 All people in South Africa are entitled to knowledge and appropriate information, in a language they understand, regarding cancer, risk factors, and how cancer may best be prevented, identified and treated.

3.2 All patients are entitled to the provision of equitable and accessible services that will address the needs of patients, on physical, social, emotional and spiritual levels.

3.3 All patients are entitled to have access to the best available clinically appropriate treatment, based on accurate diagnosis, stage of disease and current evidence-based medicine, in a suitably equipped facility, within a reasonable time frame.

3.4 All patients are entitled to the best available and most appropriate form of palliative relief from pain and suffering.

3.5 All patients are entitled to progressive and reasonable national efforts to devote resources to support them from diagnosis, through treatment, to palliation.

3.6 All patients are entitled to a work environment free from discrimination and for reasonable accommodation of their disability in the workplace.

3.7 All patients are entitled to have their dignity and wishes respected.

4. Founding Priorities

We believe strongly that the following priority and urgent steps are required, in order to establish a powerful foundation to combat the human and socio-economic toll of cancer in South Africa:

4.1 Support the creation and maintenance of a single national population-based cancer registry, and advocate for a clear legislative authorisation for the submission of cancer data by doctors and pathologists to the National Cancer Registry.

4.2 Support the implementation of a National Cancer Control Plan.

4.3 Support and coordinate a national cancer awareness program, and additional awareness efforts regarding specific types of cancer, to inform, educate and empower South Africans.

4.4 Invest in expanding and enhancing cost-effective screening techniques and early management strategies, for cancers most amenable to treatment based on early intervention and sustained treatment.

4.5 Promote, defend and protect the rights and interests of patients, among health policy-makers, healthcare professionals and healthcare funders. Ensure patient representation at a policy level.

4.6 Uphold, apply and implement the tenets of this Founding Cancer Charter.




Click here for more details on our members.