Oncology Training in Rwanda

Partnership objectives

  1. Basic and Advanced Cancer Training: To train healthcare providers in Rwanda on cancer prevention, surveillance, early diagnosis and treatment by creating training materials, training modules, and evidence-based guidelines and protocols; and to create a platform for training providers from throughout East Africa.
  2. Pathology Training: To improve local pathology capacity by training histopathology technologists for specimen preparation; o inform the annual regional conference on cancer care to promote local academic achievement and the development of rigorous, evidence-based treatment within the local context; and to build capacity for quality cancer care services in resource- and skills-limited setting by employing a task-shifting approach.

Bigirimana examines Jeanette, who is being screened for cancer after the discovery of breast and abdominal masses in her body. Bigirimana examines Jeanette, who is being screened for cancer after the discovery of breast and abdominal masses in her body. Copyright Aubrey Davis / Partners In Health

What are the health needs and challenges?

Cancer is an increasingly critical public health problem in the developing world. By 2020 it is expected that there will be 16 million new cases of cancer every year and that 70% of them will be in developing countries, which also have a much higher mortality rate compared with other regions due to more limited availability of screening, early detection, and access to treatment. Radiotherapy, for example, is available in just 21 out of 53 African nations.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

In 2012, GSK co-funded, in collaboration with Partners in Health (PIH) and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the first ever paediatric oncology congress in Rwanda where protocols were endorsed. To date, GSK has provided $376,998 to support PIH. The trainings also facilitate continued engagement in academic medicine and collective support of clinicians involved in cancer care within East Africa. To extend the reach of the project, the program focus is not just on training clinicians to provide care, but on providing training to other clinicians as well. It is expected that participants will train others at their home healthcare facilities about cancer care and curricula developed under this grant will be made available for use by other providers in East Africa. The trained clinicians work in the four oncology referral hospitals and healthcare facilities from all 42 district hospitals in Rwanda. Additionally, 48 laboratory technicians have received foundational training in histopathology tissue preparation and transfer. GSK will also continue to support the establishment of an oncology-specific training rotation for Residents at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda and the launching of in-service oncology training curriculum for district hospital nurses in 2014.  

Summary of impact and forward looking information

To date, 109 doctors and 149 nurses have been trained via the National Baseline Training covering basic oncology concepts.


* As of 2016, GSK commitment is completed but the program continues with other partners. 

Partnership information

Company(ies) GlaxoSmithKline

Partner(s) Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners in Health (PIH), Rwanda Biomedical Center, Rwanda Ministry of Health

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, NGOs

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

Disease(s) Cancer, Childhood Cancers, Children's Health, Palliative Care

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - NCDs Access Programs, Health System Infrastructure - Training

Targeted Population(s) Children, Health professionals

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Rwanda

Start Date 2012

More information GSK NCDs

Completed date 2016