Institut Curie in Tanzania: Look Back at a Vast 4-year Project to Improve Cancer Care
Tanzania has a population of around 65.5 million (Source Ined, data mid-2022), and is a country in a very precarious situation in terms of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. There are more than 40 000 new cases of cancer every year (according to data from the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2018), most notably cervical, breast, prostate and colon cancers). However, only 30% of patients are treated in health care structures, and over 70% are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease.
An Ambitious, Integrated 13-million Euro Project
The Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project (TCCP) is a vast project to transform cancer care in Tanzania, financed to the tune of 13 million euros by the AFD and the Aga Khan Foundation, which has a strong presence in the region. Institut Curie was asked to advise and co-pilot the program, providing experts and working with Tanzanian teams in the field.
Deployed in Tanzania's two most populous regions (Dar es Salaam and Mwanza), TCCP's goal was to improve the organization and quality of care provided in the country, through financial, technical and material support. The program is structured around 4 missions: population outreach and early detection, strengthening technical and human resources, integrating the whole region in developing cancer treatment, and setting up evaluation and research facilities.
Enhancing Human Resources for Earlier Detection and Better Treatment
The real challenge in this project was training; firstly for the medical teams (physicians, nurses, pharmacists) but above all for community health workers throughout the region whose job is to go into the communities and raise awareness about screening and diagnosis, particularly among women, to overcome strong social barriers. Over the past 4 years, a dozen health care professionals from Institut Curie have provided support and knowledge in palliative care, anatomopathology and interventional radiology. More than 464 physicians and nurses and 400 community health workers have been trained and are now active in the field.
The program has also led to the creation of a cancer center with two state-of-the-art radiotherapy machines and an outpatient chemotherapy unit at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam. The public hospital in Mwanza and the Dar es Salaam cancer center both received a mammography unit. The latter was also equipped with infusion pumps for drug treatments and a modern brachytherapy unit.
Four years after the start of the program, the results are very positive and encouraging: 29 700 new patients have been treated in hospitals in the Dar es Salaam and Mwanza regions (compared with only 6 800 in 2020), and almost 28% of them were treated in the early stages of the disease (compared to 15% in 2020).
The results from Institut Curie's mission in Tanzania over the past 4 years confirm our belief in the concrete benefits of people-centered support in the field to transform cancer screening, diagnosis and care in regions where the situation is difficult. Fruitful collaboration in Tanzania with our partners the Aga Khan and the AFD has energized us to launch and pursue similar programs in neighboring regions and countries
declared Prof. Thierry Philip, Chairman of the Institut Curie Executive Board.
The results of the TCCP will be presented at a symposium on June 30, 2023 at Institut Curie in Paris, attended by all the stakeholders in this public-private program: Institut Curie, Aga Khan, AFD, Tanzanian Ministry of Health and associated hospitals Muhimbili University Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam, Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, the Aga Khan's private hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Following this event, Institut Curie and AFD will sign a partnership agreement to set up a group of French cancer experts to work on similar projects in other developing countries.