“Even in the most remote and challenging settings, providing cancer care is often possible—and the right thing to do,” said Doug Ulman, president and CEO of LIVESTRONG, an organization that collaborates with Partners In Health to fight cancer in poor countries.
LIVESTRONG, a non-profit founded by cyclist Lance Armstrong, released a report yesterday that features a case study on a patient treated for cancer by Partners In Health in Rwanda. The report, Delivering Hope: Cancer Care in the Developing World, recommends practical, effective and affordable strategies to address cancer prevention and treatment, and describes how existing health systems designed to treat infectious diseases in low-income countries can be strengthened to address cancer.
The case study tells the story of Francine, a girl who came to PIH-supported Rwinkwavu Hospital suffering from a large facial tumor. While cancer was not something the PIH staff were expecting or prepared to treat, Dr. Sara Stulac, the Clinical Director of PIH-Rwanda at the time, worked with colleagues both in Rwanda and the United States to diagnose and treat Francine. As the report explains, 15-year-old Francine is cancer free, and Rwinkwavu Hospital continues to treat cancer patients as well as play a role in contributing to the development of a national cancer plan.
Watch Francine's story:
Cancer alone kills more people than tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria combined, and almost two-thirds of these deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases claim the lives of 36 million people around the world each year. These NCDs are responsible for more deaths than from any other cause, according to the World Health Organization. Contrary to prevailing assumption, NCDs significantly impact populations in low- and middle-income countries, where about 80 percent of NCD deaths occur.
“We’ve seen enormous delays because of arguments that it is too difficult, too expensive, that there is not adequate infrastructure, that there were not specialists to deliver services,” says PIH co-founder Paul Farmer, who co-authored a Lancet article calling on the international community to address cancer in poor countries . “Yes there are serious logistic and programmatic challenges, but none of them are insuperable.”
Read LIVESTRONG's report, Delivering Hope: Cancer Care in the Developing World.