Cancer is a global health problem and accounts for one in eight deaths worldwide: 7 million in 2005 alone, outpacing AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. In the next 10-15 years, the incidence of new cancers will rise to 15 million cases annually, 75% in developing countries. In 2002, in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, there were more than 500,000 cancer deaths, with 40% being attributable to modifiable risk factors such as chronic infection and tobacco use. A decade ago in East Africa, there were an estimated 175,000 persons living with cancer, and that number has dramatically increased, with cancer projected to become the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa over the next few years. Unfortunately, as the threat of early death and disability from chronic diseases like cancer grows in sub-Saharan Africa, it is clear that countries like Kenya have almost nothing in place to meet this challenge.
Through the collaboration of many partners from both academia and industry, including Pfizer, Lilly, Celgene, Abbott and others, AMPATH is already making considerable progress in improving cancer care for resource-constrained patients in Eldoret. Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) has created a team of cancer professionals to provide both inpatient and outpatient services. Through these efforts, an oncology pharmacy has been created, which provides access to chemotherapeutics beyond the financial capability of most patients. This investment has culminated not only in the creation of the Oncology Department of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, but also allowed care to improve markedly. This powerful partnership has shown the possibilities of cancer care for the average Kenyan. However, there remains a considerable amount of work to be done to improve accessibility and availability of services for the cancer patients. The AMPATH model provides an ideal framework from which to extend these services.
In creating the Center of Excellence in Cancer Care, AMPATH will leverage both the existing infrastructure and create targeted programs that will generate the highest impact for the lowest investment. The oncology center of excellence consists of cancer treatment and control activities, including cancer screening and prevention programs, as well as access to comprehensive palliative care services. The AMPATH oncology team was created in 2002, to address the growing burden of AIDS-defining malignancies in their HIV treatment program. This system has grown from a single nurse and a single physician to the current team comprised of 10 clinicians, 6 core nurses, and an oncology pharmacist. Clinical services are offered in 5 clinical sites - the central Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital Clinic in Eldoret, as well as at district health centers in Busia, Webuye, Chulaimbo, and Kitale - as well as in the hospital itself. Donated dollars have been stretched to provide chemotherapy services for over 400 patients a month in the clinics, as well as 150-200 patients monthly on the inpatient services. This team, along with AMPATH Consortium colleagues and MU and MTRH clinicians, have created some of the basic infrastructure needed for evidence-based cancer medicine.
For more information, visit the AMPATH Oncology website.