The burden of cancer in low-income countries is staggering. More than two-thirds of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization. 

In Rwanda, Partners In Health has worked closely with the Ministry of Health to devise and implement a strategic approach that ensures access to high-quality cancer care for any patient who needs it. Last year we celebrated the opening of Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center, which augments existing oncology services offered at Butaro Hospital. Our partners at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the MOH have helped train local health care workers to better diagnose and treat cancer. The challenges, however, remain enormous.

This week, Dr. Fidel Rubagumya, an intern doctor at Butaro Hospital, wrote a commentary piece for The New Times, a Rwandan newspaper, in which he discusses the burden of cancer in Rwanda, the shortage of oncologists, and the country’s integrated approach to fighting noncommunicable diseases.

Dr. Rubagumya writes:

While there has been a shift and the devastation caused by cancer is beginning to be addressed, the disease still remains a death sentence for many individuals living in poverty in the developing world.

Thanks to the Government of Rwanda, in partnership with Partners in Health, the Dana Farber Institute of Cancer, Brigham Women’s Hospital and the Clinton Foundation, the Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence was established in 2012 as a response to the rapidly growing instances of cancer in the country.

Since its inauguration, the facility has received and treated over 1,000 cancer patients from within and outside the country, including some from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

Read Dr. Rubagumya’s full commentary here.