EDUCARE: Education for Cancer in Africa

Partnership objectives

  1. Help address the significant shortage of trained healthcare workers in oncology in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Foster knowledge, development, education and training capacity in order to make comprehensive cancer control sustainable.

The training program aims to build human resource capacity through the training of healthcare professionals. The training program aims to build human resource capacity through the training of healthcare professionals. Copyright Roche

What are the health needs and challenges?

Cancer is now one of the leading causes of death in low and middle income countries, with more than half of all new cancer cases – and over 60% of cancer deaths – occurring in poorer regions of the world. In sub Saharan Africa (SSA), survival rates for one third of patients could be increased if cancer is detected earlier, but the lack of trained cancer professionals, adequate cancer care services and public awareness campaigns severely limits health system response.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Roche and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), through the EDUCARE (EDUcation for Cancer in African REgions) initiative, have combined their shared knowledge and expertise in cancer control to establish a virtual university, supported by the development of a regional African training and mentorship network, collectively called VUCCnet. It consists of:

  • Virtual University for Cancer Control (VUCC), an accredited online virtual university to provide comprehensive cancer training across Africa.
  • Regional African Cancer Training Network (RACT), a training program on-site at several cancer centers in SSA reflecting a curricula appropriate for the specific needs of the region (e.g. prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, nursing, palliative care).

The training program aims to build human resource capacity through the training of healthcare professionals in Africa to combat the growing cancer epidemic. Training centers will be part of a network which ultimately can be connected to a broader group of healthcare workers across other African countries, to help them in their own cancer control initiatives.

The first phase is to establish four pilot centres which are recognized National Centres of Competence, with training in planning, administration and management of the centre. This includes:

  • Creating a cancer training network including specialists from the Ministries of Health. 
  • Aiding specialists from the Ministries of Health in securing better healthcare resources. 
  • Providing a mix of training curricula for healthcare professionals in multiple aspects of cancer control, such as radiotherapy, nursing, palliative care and public health through low-cost web-based learning tools. 
  • Augmenting cancer professionals through multi-disciplinary cancer management skills and `train the trainer programs. 

Once established, it is anticipated that each Cancer Centre of Competence will facilitate access to diagnosis and cancer care for a catchment of approximately 5 million people. In the long term it is hoped that the outcomes of the EDUCARE pilot initiative in sub-Saharan Africa will be used as a model by the IAEA to roll-out across Africa and other developing regions of the world in Asia and Latin America.

The progress to date includes the following:

  • The Virtual University website has been established.
  • The test phase of 3 courses has been completed with around 350 students, spanning all four pilot countries (Cancer skills package for Community Health Workers; Palliative Care; Cervical Cancer Prevention & Early Detection).

Partnership information

Company(ies) Roche

Partner(s) International Atomic Energy Agency, Regional African Cancer Training Network, Virtual University for Cancer Control, World Health Organization (WHO)

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, IGOs

Therapeutic Focus Non-Communicable Diseases, Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Childhood Cancers, Children's Health, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Development of Physical Infrastructure, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Health professionals, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Patients in needs of treatment, People with low income

Region(s) Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 6

Country(ies) Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Start Date 2010

More information Roche Supporting Communities Educare

Completed date 2015

« ...to allow African healthcare workers to be trained on best practices for cancer control in their home countries and regions, and to build a sustainable mentorship network for continuous professional development. »

Mr. Massoud Samiei, Director of the PACT Program, IAEA