Rwanda is currently facing a crisis of cancer specialist despite the steady decrease in the number of cancer cases in the country.
The Rwanda biomedical center (RBC) says that the country has only two specialists (oncologists) in the field and this has impeded the access to treatment, according to Dr. Marie-Aimee Muhimpundu, the head of Non Communicable Diseases at RBC
This was revealed during the event to mark the international cancer day in Rwanda on February 4, 2015
More than 500,000 women around the world succumb to breast cancer because the majorities are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Rwanda has only four specialized hospitals- King Faisal hospital, Butaro Hospital, Rwanda Military Hospital and CHUK which handles cancer cases and at least 5800 cases have been diagnosed between 2012 and 2014.
Cancer drugs in Rwanda cannot be accessed by every Rwandan as Mituelle de santé does not cover the insurance of cancer treatment and patients are strained to get treatment which is costly.
“They are not drugs that everyone can afford. It requires USD2500 for a cancer patient to get healed depending on the type of cancer,” she said.
According to the records, stomach cancer leads with 552, followed by breast cancer 508, cervical cancer 471, lymphomas 423, Skin cancers 349, liver 329, prostate cancer 240, lung cancer 120 and ovarian 103.
Despite survival rates being low ranging from 10 to 40 per cent in settings where early detection and basic treatment are available and accessible, the five-year survival rate for early-localised breast cancer exceeds 80 per cent, according to the World Health Organization.
Currently, Data from Butaro Cancer Centre indicates breast cancer accounts for 40.3 per cent of all diagnosed cancers.
Philippa Kibugu, the Director of the Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa, pointed out that unless public sensitization is improved, breast cancer cases will continue rising.
“Most people, especially in the rural setting, are unaware about breast cancer and as a group we have to address this challenge,” Kibugu said last year.
Cancer experts have called for more measures in raising awareness around the country.
Dr Fidel Rubagumya, founder and director of Rwanda Children’s Cancer Relief, said breast cancer and other cancers in Rwanda were still a challenge because of limited awareness among the public.