Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) partnered with Partners In Health to provide cancer care to underserved populations in Rwanda and Haiti. In Rwanda, since the establishment of the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence in July 2012, dedicated by President Bill Clinton, clinicians have treated more than 3,000 patients for a variety of cancers.
In Haiti, where cancer patients are being treated at the University Hospital of Mirebalais, which opened in April 2013, more than 40 patients are treated daily in the outpatient cancer clinic.
In Rwanda, much progress occurred in the past year to build a sustainable cancer program. Until recently, all pathology samples had to be brought to the U.S. for diagnosis, a critical part of cancer treatment. A high-quality pathology lab and a telepathology system, which allows slides prepared by Butaro technicians to be reviewed electronically by a Boston pathologist, was implemented, assessed, and validated in the past year. A retrospective analysis of more than 300 cases showed that 99.4 percent of malignant cases were correctly diagnosed by the telepathology system, greatly reducing the time from diagnosis to treatment. A subsequent prospective validation confirmed these results.
Additionally, two Butaro based pathology technicians went through Boston based training in immunohistochemistry (IHC) critical testing for the care of patients with certain diseases such as breast cancer. Boston based pathologists traveled to Butaro to assist in setting up equipment and initiating IHC processing, which began in November 2014.
The Butaro program has now treated a sufficient number of patients, includingfollow up, so patient outcomes are now being assessed, the first of which will be presented in Boston, MA at a Global Research Conference of the US National Cancer Institue.
In Haiti, at Mirebalais Hospital which opened in April 2013, the cancer program is rapidly growing, treating patients from all parts of the country since it is the only affordable, high-quality adult cancer program in the country. Staff is being added to manage the increasing volume of patients.
In both Rwanda and Haiti, drugs and supplies are donated by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, or purchased through institutional or philanthropic funds. Physicians and nurses from Dana-Farber and the other Harvard hospitals donate considerable time supporting both cancer programs, though periodic visits, phone consultations, and other activities.
Due to limited human and financial resources, attention has been direct to Rwanda and Haiti entirely, and programs were not launched in Mexico and Jordan.