The Evolution of Cancer Care in Haiti

Posted on Mar 19, 2019

Oncology waiting area
Nurse Guerdie Duvert walks back to the oncology department, which has since moved to a new location, after mixing chemotherapy treatments in a pharmacy at University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health

Cancer does not discriminate by income or place of birth. Globally, 9.6 million people die each year from cancer, yet 70 percent of cancer deaths occur in the world's poorest places. This is true greatly because only 5 percent of cancer treatment is available in low- and middle-income countries.

Partners In Health does not believe cancer care is a luxury. Staff working with Zanmi Lasante, as PIH is known in Haiti, began treating patients for cancer in Cange in the early 2000s. Oncology services have steadily grown since then. Last year alone, more than 570 patients were treated at University Hospital in Mirebalais for a variety of forms of the disease, ranging from breast cancer to lymphoma.

View the timeline below to see major moments in PIH's evolution of cancer care in Haiti. Shaded boxes indicate links to more in-depth stories about our oncology patients and program.

Building in Cange, Haiti to commemorate 2011 event: PIH begins a breast cancer clinic at Hópital Bon Sauveur in Cange.Oncology services move from Cange to University Hospital in Mirebalais, a 300-bed teaching facility that opened in March of that year. Isemelie Bazard is the first breast cancer patient to undergo surgery there, and she remains healthy to this day.In May 2013, Isemelie Bazard was the first patient to undergo surgery at University Hospital in Mirebalais—and is among a growing number of breast cancer survivors in Haiti.Martha Cassemond, PIH’s first chronic myelogenous leukemia patient, completes 10 years of treatment and is doing well. She has since had a healthy son.Martha Cassemond was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when she was 12 and has been on lifesaving medication for the past 13 years, thanks to the care and support of Partners In Health in HaitiAn oncology rotation is added to University Hospital’s medical residency program.”University Hospital launches a weekly multidisciplinary clinic between oncology and surgery to encourage collaboration on the removal of cancerous tumors.  The pathology lab at the Stephen Robert and Pilar Crespi Robert Regional Reference Laboratory opens on University Hospital’s campus, allowing for quicker, local cancer diagnoses.Cancer patients used to wait 90 days for a diagnosis. Now it’s 20, thanks to new pathology services in Mirebalais Regional Reference Laboratory.More than 9,000 women are screened for cervical cancer through OB/GYN services across PIH’s 12 hospitals and clinics, including University Hospital. The oncology department moves into the Roselene Jean Bosquet Center, a newly renovated space within University Hospital that better accommodates high demand for services. Project ECHO is launched, in which colleagues from around the world use teleconferencing to share clinical knowledge.

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