Clinton to open Butaro Cancer Centre
Former United States President Bill Clinton is expected to arrive in Rwanda today morning, after which he will proceed to the Northern Province to officiate at the opening of a cancer centre at Butaro Hospital.
The Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence is the first of its kind in the east Africa region to in a rural area. The facility was funded by the Clinton Foundation, Partners in Health, the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, as well as the Government of Rwanda.
Speaking to The New Times, Dr Neo Tapella, Partners in Health’s Coordinator of the Non-communicable Diseases Programme, said that since 2006, several cancer specialists have been visiting Rwanda training local doctors who will be working at the centre.
“Currently there are no oncologists in Rwanda but plans are underway to train doctors. At the moment, there is a team of ten senior oncologists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Center who will be training Rwandan doctors,” said Dr Tapella.
Dana Farber Cancer Institute has helped Butaro Cancer Centre to capacitate nurses and doctors and the pathology lab which is brand new and will be the first pathology lab in Rwanda. It will help them effortlessly diagnose cancer without having to send biopsy samples abroad.
According to Tapella, Rwanda needs to urgently address lack of local oncologists.
PIH is currently offering baseline training to practitioners.
She added that apart from the ten oncologists from the US, there are other specialists who come to work in Rwanda for at least three months.
One of the major sponsors of the cancer centre, Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation granted PIH US$1.5 million.
Although Rwanda now has a state of the art cancer centre, it lacks a radiotherapy department and, according to Dr Tapella, the country should mobilise funds to set up a radiotherapy department.
“Currently patients who require radiotherapy are referred to Mulago Hospital in Uganda, which Butaro Cancer Centre has a partnership with,” she said.
The centre now has a Cancer ward with 24 beds, three isolation rooms, and a dedicated Chemotherapy room. It is operated by a highly professional team of nurses, a doctor and two specialists.
Also part of the composition of the hospital is an Integrated Non-Communicable Diseases Clinic which opened in 2010, and is now taking care of about 700 patients with chronicle diseases.
According to Dr Tapella, currently the common cancers among children in Rwanda are Kidney Cancer, commonly known as Wilms’ tumor or nephroblastom, and acute leukemia. In adults, common cancers are Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer and Prostate Cancer.
Previous figures indicated that Cancer Registry, in the period 2007-2011, 3294 cancers were registered, 53.8% in women.
Stomach cancer (9.6%), lymphoma (9.1%), breast cancer (8.9%), skin cancers (7.1%) and cervical cancer (6.3%) were the five most common cancers.
Most cancers were histopathologically diagnosed (52.5%), but clinical investigation (36.3%) also accounted for a high percentage of registrations, with clinical-only diagnoses occurring in 5.8%.
700 patients (315 men and 385 women) were registered in the Southern Province alone.
Contact email: edwin.musoni[at]newtimes.co.rw