Hope for cancer patients as Butaro centre gets upgrade

Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence is set to be upgraded to accommodate more patients. The move, according to Dr Neo Tapela, the Director of the Non-Communicable Disease Department at Partners In Health /Inshuti Mu Buzima, follows the overwhelming number of patients at the one-year-old centre based at Butaro Hospital in Burera District.

Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence is set to be upgraded to accommodate more patients.

The move, according to Dr Neo Tapela, the Director of the Non-Communicable Disease Department at Partners In Health /Inshuti Mu Buzima, follows the overwhelming number of patients at the one-year-old centre based at Butaro Hospital in Burera District.

The centre has for the past one year received over 1,000 patients, which has at times over-stretched its capacity. The cancer ward, a 24-bed facility, regularly has over 100 per cent bed occupancy.

Also, 30-40 patient visits are made on a given cancer clinic, day according to Dr Tapela.

“This is why Partners in Health plans to open up the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center (BACC) as an extension to the Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence,” she said.

This facility will exclusively extend cancer services to out-patients.

The centre, which is the first rural-based centre in the country, is also expected to restrict hospitalisation to those patients who require complex or more than one day IV chemotherapy infusions or those who are severely ill, according to Dr Tapela.

 “The extension of the cancer facility will decongest the cancer ward where beds are always occupied at over 100 per cent occupancy. This will also decrease costs to patients and minimise contact that is potentially infectious between well cancer patients and the sick hospitalizsed ones,” Dr Tapela said.

Among other services the ambulatory centre will provide include outpatient clinic for oncology consultations for new and existing patients, state of the art chemotherapy mixing facility for both  inpatient oncology unit and outpatient.

There will also be patient support groups, outpatient IV chemotherapy administration anticipated 10-12 patients per day also family education and counseling services.

The new facility, upon completion, will become part of or an extension of the Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence, she added without elaborating how much this will cost.

The facility is expected to be officially opened next month during the celebration to mark the one-year anniversary of the centre of excellence.

Meanwhile, in an interview with The New Times, Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH), dismissed arguments that most cancer patients are found in urban areas.

“It’s like saying poor people don’t get cancer,” he said.

Two thirds of all cases of cancer in the world come from low and middle income countries.

“No one is taking care of cancer in rural areas and so we decided to do so. Most Rwandans also live in rural areas as Rwanda is still a very rural nation,” he noted.

Currently, some of the major cancers in the country that are managed at the Butaro Cancer Centre include breast, cervical, head and neck, colorectal, stomach, the lymphomas and leukemias.

Other hospitals in the country that offer chemotherapy services in the country include King Faisal Hospital and Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe.

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