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Rwanda Seeks Partnerships In Managing Increasing Breast Cancer Cases

by Daniel Sabiiti
1:04 pm

Participants at the Multidisciplinary Collaboration in Breast Cancer Management Symposium

Cancer patients in Rwanda will soon start getting subsidized medication under the Community Based Health Insurance (CBHI) program commonly known as ‘Mutuelle de Sante’, officials have said.

“There has been some cancer medication which were not covered by mutuelle de sante and it has not been easy to access, however this has been approved (by government) and it will be availed on mutuelle,” said Dr. Francois Uwinkindi, the Division Manager of the Non-Communicable Diseases Division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

Dr. Uwinkindi was speaking at the Multidisciplinary Collaboration in Breast Cancer Management Symposium held in Kigali this June 7, 2024 and organized by the Accord for a Healthier World by Pfizer- of which Rwanda is a signatory and implementer of the global agenda to improve Health Equity for 1.2 billion people in 45 Lower-Income Countries.

The symposium was aimed at enhancing knowledge, skills, and collaboration among oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to foster a multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer management.

Status of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer remains a significant public health challenge worldwide, including in Rwanda. With its diverse manifestations and evolving treatment landscape, effective management necessitates a collaborative approach involving various healthcare professionals.

According to RBC, the government has done a lot in improving cancer treatment however the breast cancer prevalence (among women and men) is increasing among other cancers).

Rwanda and Pfizer officials discuss potential partnerships in managing breast cancer in Rwanda

For instance, figures in 2022 showed that there were 630 new cases (of which 23 were men) compared to the 5200 cases of cancer recorded in the same year, of which most of the cases were detected late for preventive treatment.

In these figures, breast cancer (a non-communicable disease) comes in the lead type of cancers with 14.6% prevalence, making it a big health concern, thus the need for prevention with early checks /screening.

RBC said that the government is currently embarking on training nurses (2 in each health center) to conduct early screening and this program is being conducted in 22 out of the 30 districts in the country.

“By the end of the year, we will have reached all districts and trained the nurses and some doctors so that this service is accessible to all,” Uwinkindi said but also acknowledged the need for more funding partnership to reduce the burden.

Gentille Mukashyaka, a professional nurse at Butaro Hospital, Rwanda’s specialized cancer treatment facility says that the biggest challenge in treating cancer cases has been in delayed detection and creating more awareness is highly needed in Rwanda.

Currently local organizations are contributing to the management of breast cancer in Rwanda.

For example, the Women’s Cancers Relief Foundation (WCRF) has since 2020 focused on reduction of women’s cancers burden in Rwanda through public awareness, prevention, early detection, and supportive palliative care towards women at high risk, cancer survivors and their families.

Jean Paul Balinda

Jean Paul Balinda, Founder and Executive Director of WCRF said that collaboration in breast cancer management is crucial and beyond the medical treatment thus called on partners to support their initiative.

Dr. Eva Njagua, a Pfizer Medical Affairs Manager & Accord Medical Partnership Lead said that they are fully committed to supporting Rwanda in managing cancer through providing affordable medication for the emerging killer disease in Africa.

Dr. Eva Njagua

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