Kigali City steps up efforts in cancer control

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

L_R_ C-Can Director for Africa Mrs Sophie Bussmann, Kigali City Vice Mayor Ms Umutoni Gatsinzi Nadine and Dr Francois Uwinkindi, Director for Cancer Programme at RBC. Photo courtesy.

Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, has committed to improving cancer care solutions through collaboration with partners including the global City Cancer Challenge (C/Can).

According to Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, the City vice Mayor in charge of Socio-economic Affairs, the initiative aims at engaging all city stakeholders in the design, planning, and implementation of cancer care solutions and take the lead as the capital city on improving the health of its citizens and reducing inequities in access to quality cancer care.

Ms Umutoni was speaking at a meeting in Kigali on Monday with the C/Can Regional Director for Africa Mrs Sophie Bussmann-Kemdjo, the C/Can Kigali Executive Committee and local stakeholders operating in cancer control field.

City Cancer Challenge Regional Director for Africa Mrs Sophie Bussmann-Kemdjo delivers remarks in Kigali on Monday. Photo courtesy

The City official said the need assessment completed last month identified challenges and priorities in Cancer Care Control in the City of Kigali but its findings will be published early next month.

“Through C/Can 2025, the city of Kigali has the opportunity to deliver a more effective cancer treatment solution leveraging existing infrastructure at different levels of the healthcare system in the city, as well as a good partnership with key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and civil society, implementing cancer and NCD related activities,” said Umutoni.

NCD stands for Non-Communicable Diseases.

Mrs Sophie Bussmann-Kemdjo commended Rwanda’s commitment and engagement from national authorities and local stakeholders in the implementation of priority projects to achieve equitable access to quality cancer services.

“C/Can works with cities to make cancer a national priority. Thanks to this initiative, the public and private sector, civil society and, most importantly, cancer patients can sit down at the same table to join forces and work together,” she said.

According to Dr Francois Uwinkindi, Director for Cancer Programme at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Rwanda detects at least 3,000 new cancer cases annually but the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated 10,000 new cancer cases for Rwanda in 2018.

Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, Kigali City vice Mayor in charge of Socio-economic Affairs, delivers her remarks on Monday. Photo courtesy.

Statistics indicate that cancer is a leading cause of death around the world. In 2018, 18.1 million new cancer cases and 9.5 million cancer deaths were estimated worldwide, and this number increased from 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2012.

About City Cancer Challenge

City Cancer Challenge (C/Can) was launched by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos. The launch was a coordinated response to the urgent need to support resource-limited countries in reducing their growing cancer burden. It was also a recognition of the untapped potential of taking an integrated approach to three of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), health, sustainable cities and partnerships for the goals.

C/Can became a standalone Swiss Foundation in January 2019 and continues to operate in close collaboration with UICC’s network of over 1,000 members in 160 countries, representing the world’s major cancer societies, as well as patient groups, influential policymakers, researchers and experts.

Its mission is to create a global community of cities and partners working together to design, plan and implement cancer solutions to save lives. This approach is built on the core principle that cities can drive impact at national level by crafting data-driven solutions with the support of a network of global, regional, and local partners that reflect an understanding of the unique local context.

The global target to reduce premature deaths from NCD by 25% by 2025 has been a call to mobilize community and nations around the world.

“However, focusing solely on NCD risk factors alone will not reduce cancer mortality rates by 2025. Improvements in early detection and treatment will be critical,” reads C/Can statement.

In Africa, The City of Kumasi (Ghana) officially joined the C/Can initiative as a Key Learning City in November, 2017. Implementation planning for 8 priority projects is underway in Kumasi.

The City of Kigali officially joined the City Cancer Challenge Foundation’s network in May 2019, as the first African Challenge City. In Kigali, the MoU was signed in March between C/Can, the City of Kigali, Rwanda Palliative Care and Hospice Organization and Polyfam Clinic.

Home to more than 1.3 million people, the City of Kigali selection criteria included high commitment from all city stakeholders to improve access to quality cancer control, strong track record in delivering performance based programmes in partnership with local, national and international partners, according to the City statement.

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