"I was very sick and everyone thought I was going to die," says Francine Tuyishime, a cancer patient from a rural and impoverished village in Rwanda. The 15-year-old had traversed the country looking for a cure for the enormous tumor protruding from her cheek before arriving at Rwinkwavu Hospital, a facility operated by PIH in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health.
But many others are not as fortunate as Francine, as cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and cardiovascular disease have become major problems in low-income countries like Rwanda.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that NCDs account for about 25 percent of Rwanda's national burden of disease. And NCDs are projected to become an even larger problem in the coming years.
For example, cancer deaths are expected to double over the next 20 years, from 7.6 million deaths worldwide in 2008 to 13.2 million deaths in 2030, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. And the WHO estimates that there will be 21.4 million new cancer cases diagnosed worldwide in 2030, with nearly two-thirds of these diagnoses occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
To address this issue, Partners In Health is working with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Jeff Gordon Childrens Foundation, and the Rwandan Ministry of Health to help poor patients like Francine survive cancer. The need to address NCDs like cancer is also beginning to capture attention on a global scale.