First National Cancer Referral Center in Rural East Africa Opens in Rwanda on July 18
The Government of Rwanda, President Bill Clinton, NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, Partners In Health's Paul Farmer, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Larry Shulman to Inaugurate the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence
On July 18, 2012, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Rwanda, Partners In Health, the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation and the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center will inaugurate the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which will serve as the first national cancer referral facility in rural Rwanda. The Center, located within Butaro Hospital in northern rural Rwanda, is a critical element of Rwanda's ambitious five-year plan to introduce cancer prevention, screening and treatment on a national level. The facility's opening will mark a major milestone as the first center of its kind to bring comprehensive cancer care to rural East Africa.
"Just a few years ago we had no system or financing mechanism to diagnose and treat AIDS in Africa. People said it was too expensive or too complicated. But today nearly 7 million people in developing countries are receiving treatment for HIV. We can do the same with cancer," said Paul Farmer, co-founder Partners In Health and chair of Harvard's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.
Rwanda has a population of nearly 11 million people -- and not a single Rwandan oncologist. Childhood cancers like acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which has an 80 percent cure rate in the United States, are a virtual death sentence for children in Rwanda. The Cancer Center of Excellence aims to address both existing resource limitations and the growing global cancer burden. The World Health Organization expects 16 million new cancer cases worldwide by 2020, with 70 percent in developing countries like Rwanda. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence will provide a full spectrum of cancer care including screening, diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery, patient follow-up, and palliative care. It will also serve as the first facility to implement standardized cancer training and protocols that align with Rwanda's new national guidelines.
Guest of Honor, Government of Rwanda
President William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America
Honorable Minister Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda Minister of Health
Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR champion, founder of Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation
Dr. Larry Shulman, Chief Medical Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Paul Farmer, PIH co-founder, Chair of Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine
WHAT: Opening ceremony of Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda's Northern Province, Burera District.
Jeff talked about the trip to Rwanda at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
ARE YOU GOING BACK TO RWANDA THIS YEAR? WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS YEAR'S TRIP FROM LAST YEAR'S TRIP? "Last year's trip we went and looked at what PIH (Partners in Health) is doing there with their hospitals. We had already made a commitment to fund a cancer center there. Now, we are actually doing the grand opening and the ribbon cutting ceremony of it actually starting. It took a little while to get...the hospital is there, but to get the cancer center, which is the part that we're helping to fund. It also took a while to get some pretty important people scheduled there. I am excited that Paul Farmer, he's kind of master-minded it all, will be there. But we'll also have President Clinton there, and the president of Rwanda, President Kagame. I'm excited. I leave Monday. It's going to be a very short trip, but it's one that I'm really looking forward to getting back there. It is such a beautiful area at Butaro Hospital and the rural area. I'm able to be a part of something that is ground-breaking in rural East Africa. This is the first of its kind of any cancer center. When they look at the projections in a developing country like East Africa, cancer is on the rise there, and can be very curable and treatable in many cases. It's just not happening. This is a big step, and I can't wait to get there and be a part of this event."
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