Nurses attending to a cancer patient at Mulago

Cancer has lately been claiming many of our people but this is set to change after a Medical Training and Fellowships Programme to train 600 cancer specialists in the next four years was unveiled recently.

Supported by the East African Development Bank (EADB) and the British Council in partnership with the Royal College of Physician of London, the training will boost the medical fraternity capacity in fighting non-communicable diseases in particular, cancer and neurological disorders in East Africa.

“The East African Development Bank (EADB) Medical Training and Fellowships Programme, managed by the British Council in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians (London), intends to train 600 East African physicians over a period of four years,” says Ms Vivienne Yeda, the Director General of the EADB.

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The training comes at a time when the number of cancer cases worldwide is expected to surge by 75% during the next two decades according to WHO Cancer Research. Deaths from cancers have been on the increase in the East African region, with 50 Kenyans dying daily from various forms of cancer. The trend is the same across East Africa, with the main cause being associated with lack of treatment facilities and expertise for treatment, prevention and early detection.

Ms.Yeda added that the East Africa Community has for a long time failed to prevent and treat the cancer scourge because of lack of trained and skilled doctors. The ratio of doctor to population in the region is far below the UN standards. Through the East Africa Development Bank Medical Training and Fellowship Programme, we hope over the long term to equip doctors in district hospitals across East Africa with the skills to effectively and promptly diagnose cancer and neurological disorders and facilitate early interventions either at the point of contact or by referral for advanced medical care.”

She further said that the programme was an additional investment in the growing list of interventions by the bank to boost skill and capacity to key sectors of the East African economy. The Bank currently supports a scholarship programme for teachers in the US as well as capacity building programme for East African public sector lawyers in the extractive industries.

“The East African Community with a population of more than 135 million has great economic potential, but non-communicable diseases are a major threat to this regions quest to achieve socio-economic development,” said Ms. Yeda.

In the first 3 years of the project, the programme will conduct a series of East-Africa based residential 5-day training courses in neurology and oncology. These will be delivered by a mixed faculty from the UK and East Africa. They will be complemented by a two-year specialist academic and clinical training in the UK for a select number of high cadre doctors in these two disciplines.

The British Council Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa, Mandy Johnson said the programme will create opportunities for doctors within the East African region who aspire to specialise in the medical disciplines of oncology and neurology. Their training will bring much needed skills to the communities they serve.

“We are pleased that the partnership with EADB and the Royal College of Physicians brings global expertise into the East African Region and will lead to a rich exchange of skills, expertise and experience. We hope that the programme will lead to better health for the people of East Africa,” Said Mandy Johnson, the British Council Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa.

At the same time the CEO of the Royal College of Physicians Ian Bullock, added that the programme will aid in improving not only the skills of the doctors but also help in saving lives;

“I am extremely proud that we have this opportunity to use our expertise to support our colleagues in the East African region. This programme is an excellent example of the Royal College of Physician’s aim to improve care for patients and to develop physicians throughout their career by increasing access to high quality postgraduate training.”

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