OPEC Fund For International Development (OFID) Extends a Grant in Support of an INCTR Project

INCTR Branches have been working for several years in a number of African Countries to help improve the treatment of childhood cancer and to screen women for cancer of the Cervix Uteri. Since 2004, over 660 patients with Burkitt lymphoma, have been treated and an overall survival rate of 60% achieved. Recently, The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) approved a grant proposal submitted by INCTR and will thus become one of the donors supporting several organizations (including three INCTR Branches) which will work together to further improve survival rates in this disease based on lessons learned from the ongoing study. Hospital networks will be established in Uganda and Tanzania in order to detect the cancer earlier, improve access to care, and more efficiently adjust treatment to disease extent. Additional health professionals will be trained and certified as competent in the management of the disease.
The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) is the development finance institution established by the Member States of OPEC in 1976 as a collective channel of aid to the developing countries, mandated to foster sustainable development and alleviate poverty in all disadvantaged regions of the world. OFID does so by providing concessional financing and grants to all sectors of development.

A brief outline of the project follows:

Summary - Developing a Total Care Plan (Model of Care) for Burkitt Lymphoma
The present proposal is directed towards the development of a total care plan for BL based on the therapy demonstrated to be effective in an African setting, but also taking account of the potentially soluble problems that presently result in patients arriving at the treatment center with very advanced disease (solving this problem alone might well result in an average cure rate 10% higher) and developing methods to disseminate information about the curability of the disease to both the public, who need to seek medical consultation when their child is unwell, and primary and secondary care physicians who must recognize the possibility that the symptoms may be caused by BL (or another cancer). The fact that excellent results in the treatment of BL have already been obtained with protocol INCTR 03-06 essentially guarantees success of the project if the major outcome measure is the survival rate in BL, but improving the efficiency of the non-treatment aspects of care, namely educating members of the public to suspect the diagnosis, referring the patient to a center where an accurate diagnosis can be made and ensuring that treatment is given according to a previously designed plan (protocol) is highly likely to result in even better results than those obtained before. Although the emphasis will initially be on BL, as described above, a major advantage to developing effective approaches to educating the public as well as primary and secondary level health care providers about the symptoms of BL and when to refer cases to a hospital capable of delivering effective care, is that the same methods could also be used for many other cancers. By integrating district hospitals and potentially, primary care providers, into a regional healthcare network, designed to detect, treat and follow up all patients with BL, the health services would be strengthened, to the benefit of many other patients, and medical staff will have the advantage of greater communication, exchange of ideas and sharing of knowledge, but will also work more closely together to the advantage of a broader range of patients with cancer. Ensuring local sustainability will result in an expansion of the health workforce and improved collection and management of data within participating countries such that they will be able to more effectively manage their increasing cancer (and other non-commuicable disease) burden. In essence, this project will demonstrate the importance of careful application of the scientific method to the solution of problems in a real-time rather than in a virtual situation – i.e., it will both create and use knowledge directly in the care of patients, and not simply transfer information gained from high income countries to low income countries. The latter frequently has no impact, particularly in the low income countries, where resources are so limited. Without training in the scientific method, sufficient well trained health professionals, equipment, medicines and facilities, improvements in health systems and health services is simply not possible.

Organizations interested in further information about this project, which is closely linked to ongoing pathology and (in the coming year) cancer registry projects in the same region should contact INCTR via eb.rtcni|ofni#eb.rtcni|ofni. For information on OFID, a major organization supporting a variety of projects related to development, see www.ofid.org.

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