The ever-growing healthcare problems affecting the populations of African nations may be creating an increasingly pressing issue for the international pharmaceuticals trade.
Numerous countries throughout the poverty-stricken continent, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are seeing their fragile infrastructures tested by infectious illnesses and other related conditions.
Market analysis firm Frost & Sullivan has highlighted the scale of this problem in a recent report on the development of the pharmaceutical industry in east Africa, pointing to the example of Uganda, where the spread of HIV has been associated with a sharp increase in cancer rates.
Figures from the report show that infectious diseases cause six of the ten most common cancers affecting the nation, including Kaposi sarcoma and human herpesvirus-8, while in many African regions cancer rates have risen more than 20,000-fold in recent years.
Such problems are currently being compounded by a lack of infrastructure to deal with the trends - access to inexpensive chemotherapy is scarce among deprived patients, with an inability to afford treatment or transport leading to most sufferers either relying on a single course of drugs or going without any treatment at all.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the escalation of this issue is prompting a response from the pharmaceuticals sector, both internally and worldwide.
Although relatively small, there is evidence that the east African healthcare sector is moving to address the current lack of investment in lifestyle disease prevention, according to Frost & Sullivan programme manager Lizelle Wentzel.
She said: "Uganda has one cancer institute, three oncologists and limited funding, but is attempting to make a difference through research collaborations, funding programmes, and training of staff to control the spread of cancer in the country."
The report states that these initiatives are being accompanied by signs of growth in the relatively small local pharmaceutical sector, with the east African pharma industry earning revenues of $1.2 million (£776,300) in 2009 - a total estimated to reach $2.8 million in 2016.
More significant investment, however, is coming from abroad, as multinational firms look to prioritise lending assistance to African healthcare initiatives.
Earlier this week, US-based Merck Sharpe and Dohme announced that it is increasing its support for Botswana's African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP), which is one of sub-Saharan Africa's most successful public-private partnerships.
This agreement will see the company's Merck Foundation unit ally with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide an additional $60 million - as well as medicine donations - for ACHAP programmes to combat HIV, provide care for HIV sufferers with tuberculosis and assist Botswana's efforts to address these issues internally.
Themba Moeti, managing director of ACHAP, said: "Our partners' contributions, through funding, antiretroviral medicine donations and medical expertise, have been absolutely essential to our ability to address the needs of Batswana living with HIV and AIDS."
Merck's initiative is characteristic of a number of similar programmes highlighted by healthcare companies in recent months - for example, Sanofi-aventis was presented with the 2010 Global Business Coalition Core Competence Award in May for its Malaria Access to Medicines programme, while medical technology firm BD pledged to assist training Kenyan health workers in safe blood drawing practices in June.
Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers Squibb gave a presentation at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna last month highlighting the continuing legacy of its anti-HIV and tuberculosis initiative Secure the Future, which has benefited hundreds of thousands of African patients during the 11 years it has been running.
Ms Wentzel of Frost & Sullivan stated that these efforts by the pharmaceutical industry and other donors will aid the fight against diseases such as HIV and cancer in Africa, expressing hope that they can be accompanied by improved local government action and strategies.
She said: "Although donor funding will alleviate some of the strain, it is crucial for the country to have access to anti-cancer treatments."