Cancer is no longer a death sentence in Rwanda. Inaugurated on the World Cancer day (04/02/20), this up to date center provides cutting-edge technology used to deliver specialized treatment to cancer patients.
Located at the Rwanda Military Hospital in Kanombe, the center is the first radiotherapy center in the country and will soon acquire both chemotherapy and surgery. The center is equipped with two linear accelerators that provide treatment using VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy), a technology that directly and precisely administers radiation to cancerous tumors while minimizing the dose to surrounding organs.
Operational since March 2019, more than 350 patients have been treated and the facility can accommodate 150 to 200 patients per day. About 57% of these treatments have been covered by « Mutelle de Sante » while others have been privately funded.
Cancer in numbers…
Globally, cancer is among the leading killer diseases. Over 70% of its victims are located in low- and middle-income countries, where prevention and treatment remain limited. According to a 2018 study of the International Agency for Research ( IARC), in Rwanda, 10,704 new cancer diagnoses were registered (4,520 cases among men and 6,184 cases among women). The annual mortality rates stood at 7,662 and 50% to 60% of all cancer patients require radiotherapy in the course of their treatment.
Four years ago, less than 10% of the population in need was able to access treatment and about USD 1 million was spent on international transfers for radiotherapy treatment and patients were forced to seek care radiotherapy abroad.
« We have spent large sums of money each year sending some patients abroad for cancer treatment. Now many more Rwandans will be able to get the care they need with their families nearby. »
What’s the next step?
The facility will complement existing prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services including a 20-bed chemotherapy unit already in operation. In addition, the center will allow full scale-up of screening and early detection for cancers such as cervical, breast, and those related to the hepatitis C virus. Future plans indicate further diagnostic and inpatient services to be gradually added in order to provide comprehensive cancer treatment and palliative care to those with late state diagnosis.
Over the last decade, Rwanda has made Rwandans’ health and wellbeing a priority. The improvements in this sector are remarkable and the goal is to ensure preventable, curative, and supportive care for all.