Kigali city authorities examine challenges for cancer patients

The City of Kigali is undertaking an assessment of the most demanding needs for cancer patients in Kigali.

Alongside Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), city authorities initiated a needs assessment earlier this year to find out the burning issues concerning cancer awareness, prevention, early detection, diagnostics, treatment, palliative care among others.

The assessment that was successfully completed in August saw a total of 126 professionals from 32 institutions and 80 cancer patients actively participate in data collection and preparatory working group meetings.

Its situation analysis report will be published by early October.

According to Dr Francois Uwankindi, the Director of Cancer Programme at RBC, their assessment found out 52 needs that the city may have to look into in the fight against cancer.

These, he says, will be examined, and the ten most pressing ones will be selected by experts and the city will design an action plan on how to address them.

“If for instance, we find that the cancer drugs are expensive or that medics numbers are not satisfactory, or that people approach hospitals late; we will ask ourselves what we can do about it and as we work to come up with an action plan for solving such problems,” he said.

The efforts are part of the City Cancer Challenge (C/Can), an international project that City of Kigali officially joined in May 2019 as the first African Challenge City.

Launched in 2017 under the auspices of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the C/Can project has created a model that supports communities of cities to learn from each other and transform the way they tackle the ever-growing burden of cancer by crafting scalable solutions that can drive impact at the national level and expand access to cancer treatment and care.

It aims at building a fast-growing global community of cities where innovation is applied to improve the delivery of quality, equitable and sustainable cancer solutions.

The project takes a data-driven approach to identify key gaps and priorities and then mobilises the right partners to address city needs.

It advocates for an inclusive and transparent partnership approach that brings together the public and private sectors, allowing us to work closely with a wide range of local stakeholders in our cities.

Nadine Umutoni, the Vice Mayor in charge of Socio-economic Affairs said that the need assessment was done to identify challenges and priorities which will guide the city in the fight against the disease.

“Through C/Can, the city of Kigali has the opportunity to deliver a more effective cancer treatment solution leveraging existing infrastructure at different levels of the healthcare system in the city, as well as a good partnership with key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and civil society, implementing cancer and NCD related activities,” she said.

Umutoni, Monday met with the C/Can Regional Director for Africa Sophie Bussmann-Kemdjo who commended the strong commitment and engagement from high-level national authorities as well as key local stakeholders in the implementation of priority projects to achieve equitable access to quality cancer services in Rwanda.

“C/Can works with cities to make cancer a national priority. Thanks to this initiative, the public and private sector, civil society and, most importantly, cancer patients can sit down at the same table to join forces and work together.”

An estimated 10,704 new cancer cases involving 4,520 males and 6,184 females were recorded in Rwanda last year, according to RBC.

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