About us


Phakamisa is AstraZeneca's access program for Breast and Prostate Cancer. The program began as a Corporate Social Responsibility program in 2010 when AstraZeneca realized the impending burden that the state health sector was going to be faced with by noncommunicable diseases, and cancer in particular.

Phakamisa is derived from a Zulu word, which means 'upliftment'.

Strenghtening healthcare capabilities

Access to healthcare depends on having a functional healthcare system and the right allocation of resources to make sure that medicines are used appropriately as part of overall health management.

Phakamisa partners with others to help strengthen healthcare frameworks and capabilities for people in communities with limited healthcare infrastructure.

Tackling breast cancer in Africa

Breast cancer is a growing health problem in sub-Saharan Africa, with it now having surpassed cervical cancer as the leading cause of death in many countries.1 In sub-Saharan Africa, breast cancer is responsible for one in four diagnosed cancers and one in five cancer deaths in women.2

The problem of breast cancer in Africa is compounded by the lack standardized diagnostic and treatment programs and that many women delay seeking treatment for symptoms, with a large proportion of the diagnosed cancer being ones that are not amenable to treatment.3

Phakamisa brings together different organizations to help raise breast cancer awareness, increase early detection and diagnosis, and improve access to treatment and effective support networks. AstraZeneca is also working to ensure that our comprehensive range of hormonal treatments is made available to the health service in a cost-effective way

In collaboration with South Africa's Foundation for Professional Development and key experts in the field of oncology, we are providing accredited courses in cancer diagnosis, treatment and care to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. And in partnership with the Cancer Association of South Africa and the Breast Health Foundation, we are training teams of volunteers and counsellors to go out into the community, raising awareness and supporting patients, as Phakamisa 'Navigators'.

Since the launch of Phakamisa in 2011, more than 600 healthcare professionals completed courses and 400 people have been trained as Navigators. Continued education for the Navigators has also covered socially relevant issues such as cervical cancer, HIV, gender-based violence and child abuse.


600 healthcare professionals and 400 people trained as Navigators since 2011 to support patients.

Phakamisa is in its fifth year of operation and, to date, 1,606,978 women have been reached by Navigators across the country. The primary objective of these Navigators is to support patients that are diagnosed with breast cancer in the public system. However, their interaction with people when raising awareness of breast health in their communities made it possible for close to 3,800 malignant lumps to be identified and referred for effective treatment, something which might not have been discovered if the services of the Phakamisa Navigators were not around. During the four years since the programme started, a monthly average of 2,501 patients have been supported by Phakamisa Navigators in the public health sector.

Addressing prostate cancer

It is the most commonly diagnosed solid organ cancer in South African men. According to the South African National Cancer Registry (1999), the incidence of prostate cancer in South Africa is increasing at approximately 3% every year.3

With this reality facing South African communities, Phakamisa embarked on another challenge during 2016 and started to implement the aspects of the breast cancer model so that prostate cancer patients can also be supported when diagnosed. Phakamisa Prostate is currently being rolled out across the country.

Phakamisa Prostate offers the same service as the breast cancer programme through the collaboration of non-governmental organizations, such as the Prostate Cancer Foundation of South Africa, and the Department of Health that join Phakamisa in the worthy cause to change and impact the lives of cancer patients and their families in South Africa.


1,2 NIH Public Access, Breast Cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa: Opportunities for Prevention. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023680/. Last accessed October 2016.

3 Prostate Cancer Foundation of South Africa. Available at: http://www.prostate-ca.co.za/cake/index.php/article/51 . Last accessed October 2016.

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd. South Africa Reg. No. 1992/005854/07

Building 2, Northdowns Office Park, 17 Georgian Crescent West, Bryanston, 2191, South Africa

Private Bag X23, Bryanston, 2021, South Africa. Tel: +27(0) 11 797-6000. Fax: +27(0) 11 797-6001. www.astrazeneca.com.