Renewed hope as cancer centre opens
Evelyn Kamagaju was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of December, 2011. It was a trying moment but her family was supportive throughout.
She underwent radiotherapy treatment which saw one of her breasts amputated in a foreign country because she was unable to find the required treatment in Rwanda. Kamagaju, who is now a cancer activist, voiced hope with the opening of the Butaro cancer centre, saying that more cancer patients will now be able to get treatment.
About the lack of Oncologists, Kamagaju said: “There is an oncologist from Uganda who comes here twice a month to offer treatment. Our Rwandan doctors are also training, so, very soon, we’ll be able to have the treatment within the country.”
She called upon women to carry out self-examination and always seek medical advice whenever they suspect anything.
In an interview Dr Jean De Dieu Ngirabega, the Director of Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health, revealed that three Rwandan doctors are training to be Oncologists.
He also mentioned that another team will be sent abroad to study radiotherapy while others will train as biomedical Engineers and Physicists.
“We have a five-year plan in which we made strategies to educate a number of doctors as cancer specialists whose capacity will be built to work in the radiotherapy department,” he said.
Ngirabega was optimistic that once the goals of the 5-year plan are achieved, cancer patients will not have to be referred abroad any more for radiotherapy treatment.
Dr Neo Tapella, Partners in Health’s (PIH) Coordinator of the Non-communicable Diseases Programme, also confirmed other plans underway to train oncologists who are urgently needed in the country.
She said that there’s a team of ten senior oncologists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Centre who will be training Rwandan doctors, adding that the most common cancer among adults is breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer while kidney cancer and acute leukemia are common in children.
Contact email: Maria.kaitesi[at]newtimes.co.rw