Institut Curie in Tanzania, jointly heads an ambitious and engaged program to fight cancer
Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzanie
Prof. Thierry Philip, Chairman of the Executive Board, Dr. Pierre Anhoury, Director of international relations, Dr. Alain Fourquet, radiotherapist, and Dr. Arnaud Gauthier, pathologist, met with all the Tanzanian contributors and partners in early December 2021, including the Aga Khan foundation which is managing the project, and the leadership of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in Tanzania which is financing the TCCP to the tune of 10 million euros. This trip was also an opportunity to discuss with Mr. Nabil Hajlaoui, France’s Ambassador to Tanzania.
How to orchestrate oncology in Tanzania, a highly unstable country where cancer of the cervix, breast, prostate and colon cause devastation? How to improve screening, diagnosis and treatment when a large majority of patients arriving at the hospital are already presenting with very advanced-stage cancers? The goal of the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project (TCCP) is to reduce cancer-related mortality in 13 districts of Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, through a unique public-private collaboration involving the Tanzanian public health facilities and some twenty treatment facilities of the Aga Khan foundation. An advisor and joint-coordinator to the TCCP, Institut Curie puts to work its experts in radiotherapy, pathology and radiology, working in collaboration with Tanzanian specialists on community and gender issues to raise awareness about cancer screening in the communities.
A brand-new center dedicated to oncology in the country’s second largest city
Until now, Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam was the country’s only cancer treatment center. Today, with the TCCP, services are forming in particular in Mwanza, Tanzania’s second largest city, where a new cancer center is currently being built. Furthermore, with 7 particle accelerators for 60 million inhabitants (compared with 900 in France for the same population), one of the major challenges of the project involves equipping the treatment centers. Within 2 years, the aim of the TCCP is to double the number of radiotherapy machines, from 7 to 14. Another aspect is the organization of diagnosis, and pathology and molecular biology services. The coordinators of the TCCP, with technical support from Institut Curie, are working hard to transform and organize the pathology processes that are facing major supply and storage issues.
500 people trained in less than one year under the TCCP
The real challenge to be overcome in this project is training. First of all that of the medical teams (physicians, nurses, pharmacists) but above all that of welfare workers, whose job it is to go into the communities and raise awareness about screening and diagnosis, particularly among women, in order to overcome very significant societal barriers.
Within this context, Institut Curie is organizing classes (palliative care, pathology, international radiology) for Tanzanian physicians. In parallel, the TCCP is utilizing a network of patient-partners (25 cancer survivors are taking part) and is relying on training for hundreds of welfare workers.
In Tanzania, there are myriad family, cultural and spiritual reasons why people don’t go to diagnosis centers and even less to treatment centers. It is essential to inform and to bring about deep-seated changes within the society. We are therefore coordinating a phenomenal community effort. With training for medical teams and the arrival of new equipment, these advances bode well for important progress for Tanzania.This far-reaching project reasserts and steps up Institut Curie’s commitment overseas and could inspire other oncology programs in other countries in the region.
, explains Dr. Pierre Anhoury, Director of International Relations at Institut Curie.
The Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project - TCCP
In 2018, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) decided to support Tanzania with a sum of 10 million euros to improve their oncology structure. This was a rare event since the AFD had never made such a large donation. The TCCP project is part of a public-private partnership between the AFD and Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), the country’s national cancer institute (at Bugando Medical Center) in Mwanza as well as Muhimbili National Hospital and the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam. The Aga Khan foundation - owner of this new treatment facility and 22 primary care centers in Tanzania - was tasked with managing this donation. It also allocated an additional 3.3 million euros to the project. Through a partnership agreement with the Aga Khan foundation, Institut Curie supports, advises and jointly heads the TCCP in conjunction with regional and local governments, the Ministry of Health and other partners on issues of community, gender, the elderly and children.