Innovating for Cancer Care in Africa: Global Cancer Program at the AORTIC Cancer Research Conference in Mozambique


Global Cancer Program Collaboration members at the AORTIC Conference Poster Session (Sarah Kutika, Research Coordinator for MUHAS-ORCI-UCSF Cancer Collaboration; Advera Ngaiza, Pathologist at Muhimbili National Hospital; Lindsay Breithaupt, Program Manager of UCSF Global Cancer Program, and Beatrice Mushi, Program Manager of MUHAS-ORCI-UCSF Cancer Collaboration)

Members of UCSF's Global Cancer Program attended the 12th International Conference on Cancer in Africa November 5-8, 2019 in Maputo, Mozambique. More than two thousand participants from all over the world attended the 2019 African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) conference with the theme “Cancer in Africa: Innovation, Strategies, Implementation.” 

The conference program was developed by an internationally-representative Scientific Program Committee to present research, share practical expertise, and foster collaborations to improve access and quality of cancer management in Africa. According to the World Health Organization, people in 2 out of 3 countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to basic cancer services. Conferences like AORTIC provide critical opportunities for collaboration to improve care across the continent. 

The UCSF Global Cancer Program co-hosted a Tanzania Cancer Research Showcase with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, as well as partner sites Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI). The event brought together over 80 participants from 11 institutions in Tanzania and 19 international collaborator sites. Over 30 presentations showcased the breadth of research currently implemented in Tanzania and set the stage to foster collaborations between ongoing research efforts. Program Manager, Lindsay Breithaupt, noted the program's collaborative partnership model and research-driven initiatives were highlighted by many of the presentations by both UCSF faculty and partners.

Materials from the Tanzania Cancer Research Showcase, including NCI Tanzania Country Report and packet of over 35 Tanzanian abstracts presented at AORTIC.

One key collaboration of the Global Cancer Program in East Africa is the  Implementation of Tanzania's National Cancer Treatment Guidelines at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) which pairs Program Director Katherine Van Loon, MD, MPH; faculty Tracy Lin, PhD, and Global Cancer Fellows Rebecca DeBoer, MD, MA and Geoffrey Buckle, MD, MPH with Tanzania investigator Jerry Ndumbalo, MD, MBA of ORCI. The objective of this work is to evaluate the feasibility, adoption, and effectiveness of a theory-informed implementation strategy to facilitate the uptake of guideline-based clinical practice at the national referral center, ORCI.

Dr. Ndumbalo reported to the BBC World News "these guidelines will help to streamline the process of treatment as well as to improve the quality of the treatment we are providing." He advocated for  "global and political will to insure equitable cancer services, especially radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We really need to have these therapeutic agents be more affordable." Hear the full interview beginning at 14:32 here.

UCSF faculty and partners presented 8 posters and 4 oral lectures showcasing the variety of projects of the Global Cancer Program, such as esophageal and breast cancer treatment, radiotherapy, and creation of early career training programs.  Results and conversations from the conference were covered on Twitter with 1.2K tweets on #AORTIC2019 receiving over 5 million impressions. See some of the coverage below.