New cancer centre in Dar es Salaam will treat 100 patients per day

Dar es Salaam, 02 May 2024: The Cancer Care Centre which has opened will provide patients with world-class, evidence-based services, covering costs for many who cannot afford treatment.

With longer lifespans comes an increase in cancer rates. Pollutants in air, food, and water, and a shift away from protective traditional diets, are also causing higher rates of cancer in East Africa.

Prevention, early disease detection, treatment facilities, trained medical staff and financial assistance are key to saving lives. But countries with limited resources, such as Tanzania, risk missing out on global innovations in cancer treatment.

The Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project (TCCP) has worked to improve this situation over the last four years. A partnership between the Agence Française de Développement, the Government of Tanzania, the Bugando Medical Centre, the Ocean Road Cancer Institute, the Institut Curie and AKDN, the TCCP has helped 100 public primary healthcare facilities in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza to strengthen oncology care.

The project supported the human papillomavirus vaccination rollout for over 5,000 pupils, helping to prevent cervical cancer. Informing nearly 4.5 million people about spotting symptoms, and conducting 673,000 screenings, meant that almost 28 percent of patients were referred for treatment at early stages of cancer compared to 15 percent in 2020. More than 450 community health workers and 400 physicians and nurses have been trained. Equipment, such as four new radiotherapy machines, has been provided for hospitals.

The TCCP has also led to the creation of a new cancer centre in the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam. The centre will accommodate 100 patients per day for radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and screening and vaccination services, reducing wait times and helping to cover costs for many patients who could not otherwise afford treatment. Machines with capability for 3D imaging and high-precision radiotherapy will enable state-of-art treatment.

“Our experts will provide world-class, evidence-based services,” explains Dr Harrison Chuwa, Medical Director of the hospital. “The Centre enables anatomical pathology complemented by molecular pathology, which will allow us to profile cancers and offer opportunities for targeted therapies and immunotherapy. We are enhancing our surgical oncology programme, while our radiation oncology programme will offer very advanced techniques that are the first of their kind in the country.”

The Cancer Care Centre was opened today by Hon. Dr Doto Mashaka Biteko, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy of the United Republic of Tanzania, who conveyed appreciation on behalf of Tanzania’s President, and commended AKDN’s many years of work in the country.

“Your decision to build a cancer treatment centre is another testament to your efforts, and this contribution to our country is truly commendable. We thank you very much,” he said.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), spoke at the opening ceremony.

“Today, to see this incredible tertiary investment in Dar es Salaam is a testament not only to the progress that Tanzania is making in health care, progress that AKDN, Aga Khan Health Services, and Aga Khan University are causing to happen, in the countries where we work, but also to the vision of [the AKDN health] system to be able to provide health care to millions at the primary level, but also provide advances to this level of care, where we’re really seeing the height of technology in health care,” she said, expressing her appreciation to everyone involved.

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