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Reducing the Burden of Cancer in East Africa

, by Matthew Pun and Jonah Yousif

The mission of the Center for Global Health is to advance global cancer research, build expertise, and leverage resources across nations to reduce cancer deaths worldwide. We carry out that mission by getting together people to share knowledge and expertise, where it is needed most, in low-and-middle-income countries. Sometimes we offer “virtual” guidance through the Internet or on conference calls, and other times, we go where we are needed.  Our most recent in person effort took place at the East Africa Cancer Control Leadership Forum in Lusaka, Zambia from June 16–18, 2014.  

The goal of the forum in Lusaka was clear: to carry out our mission by continuing to help our African partners develop their own individual cancer control programs. We do this by getting together cancer control experts to exchange ideas, best practices, experiences and plans to help reduce the global burden of cancer. We call this “global health diplomacy.”

Each participating nation (Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe) brought their own cancer control experts, all with different sets of expertise, but who shared the common goal of easing the burden of cancer. These Africa-based experts included representatives from the ministries of health, cancer hospitals, leading cancer advocacy groups, and experts in palliative care. Other participants included representatives from the Union for International Cancer Control, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Strategic Health Concepts. The diverse group of cancer control stakeholders discussed important issues like global gaps in research and scientific training and exchanged vital information and best practices that we hope will drive improvements in African cancer research and cancer control.

We recognize that one size does not fit all. CGH staff members offered expert guidance to African country teams that fit where they are on their own journeys developing cancer control plans that are appropriate for the situation in their own countries.  

The meeting in Lusaka was just the first step in CGH's African program. In the coming months, CGH leaders will follow up individually with each country team at set intervals and continue to provide technical assistance, keep the information exchange alive and vibrant, as well as celebrate the progress they have achieved. 

Stay tuned. We're looking forward to building on the success of this forum during our next Cancer Control Leadership Forum in the Pacific region in late 2014.

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