First National Cancer Referral Center in Rural Rwanda Launched
On July 18th 2012, the Ministry of Health of Rwanda in collaboration with Partners In Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima (PIH/IMB), Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, and the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation (JGCF) inaugurated the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence (COE), which will serve as the first national cancer referral facility in rural Rwanda. President William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America, presided over the inauguration.
The COE will offer some of the world’s poorest communities access to quality cancer services and is a culmination of many years of close partnership between the Ministry of Health (MOH) and PIH/IMB. The 24-bed facility has been renovated to optimize infection control and facilitate a positive, dignified patient experience. The facility also includes three isolation rooms and a dedicated chemotherapy mixing room. Cancer patients who do not require admission will be followed at the integrated Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Clinic at Butaro Hospital.
An outpatient Infusion Center will be set up on the Butaro Hospital campus to care for patients requiring chemotherapy infusions, blood transfusions, and family counseling. Until now, biopsies have been sent to supporting Boston-based hospitals ; however a fully equipped pathology lab is being be developed so that Butaro can serve as a national referral pathology lab, allowing for in-country cancer-related testing and diagnosis.
Services at Butaro are provided by a well-trained team of dedicated personnel, who are supported through training and continued mentorship with clinicians at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. These same experts contribute to curriculum development and on-site training such as the First National Baseline Cancer training that took place in March 2012.
The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence is made possible through the visionary leadership of Rwanda’s MOH, partnerships with PIH/IMB, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and by a generous grant from the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation (JGCF).
As noted by Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder Partners In Health and chair of Harvard’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, “Just a few years ago we had no system or financing mechanism to diagnose and treat AIDS in Africa. People said it was too expensive or too complicated. But today nearly 7 million people in developing countries are receiving treatment for HIV. We can do the same with cancer.”
Among all NCDs, cancers have been the most daunting and under-addressed. The national cancer registry in Rwanda revealed that 3,420 patients had been diagnosed with cancer between the years 2007 – 2011 ; of these cancer patients, 320 were children. Given this reality, cancer has been prioritized by the Rwandan MOH, and an ambitious five-year national strategic plan is under development to introduce cancer prevention, screening, and treatment on a national level. The COE represents a major milestone in this plan as the first facility to provide care according to the newly-endorsed national cancer protocols and as the first rural-based national cancer referral facility in the region.
Butaro Hospital was inaugurated on January 24th 2011 by His Excellency President Paul Kagame. In his inaugural address, His Excellency said, “Butaro is more than a hospital. It is a unique story of exceptional people with desire to see positive change in the world and in communities like the one hosting us today… it is also a story about strong and mutually benefiting partnerships and the fact that when we come together and join forces, commendable results can be achieved.”
Since 2007, the MOH and PIH/IMB have provided cancer care to over 100 patients at PIH-supported Rwinkwavu Hospital.
Dr. Jean De Dieu Ngirabega
DG Clinical Services, MOH
tel : 0788650824
email : email@example.com
Dr. Neo Tapela
Partners In Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima
tel : 0784890764
email : firstname.lastname@example.org