Roche announced today the launch of the EDUCARE (EDUcation for Cancer in African REgions) project, which, in concert with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), will provide support to help combat the growing cancer epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa.
The EDUCARE project is to be piloted in four African countries, and is linked with a wider initiative to build regional training networks in cancer control and a Virtual University for Cancer Control (VUCCnet) in Africa. The EDCUARE project will facilitate a first-of-its-kind exchange of knowledge and skills between both healthcare workers and countries. EDUCARE will further include an online training resource centre, known as the Virtual University for Cancer Control (VUCC), the first such platform for health workers across the continent.
Maturin Tchoumi, General Manager Roche South Africa said: “As a leader in oncology, Roche believes that its strengths, expertise and resources can be used to improve the quality of oncology training and education in the poorest countries in the world. There is a real lack of basic education in oncology in Africa. By contributing our skills and competencies on the ground, Roche can make a real and sustainable improvement. “
This new public-private partnership reflects a shared concern over the increasing cancer burden in sub Saharan Africa, a region of the world where cancer rates are growing rapidly. Cancer now accounts for 12.5% of all deaths worldwide, more than HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined. By 2020, there are expected to be 15 million new cases of cancer every year, 70% of which will be in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of trained healthcare workers in oncology has been cited as one of the key barriers to improved healthcare.
In addition to financial support, Roche will work with the IAEA to identify potential opportunities for Roche employees in particular roles to share their skills and expertise to help facilitate and implement the training initiative.
The partners have committed to a five-year plan, working together to drive participation from healthcare
workers in the key countries and beyond. EDUCARE aims to reach over 200 healthcare workers in the first year of the programme.
The launch of the EDUCARE initiative will be marked with an initial meeting scheduled for May, involving the IAEA, Roche, the World Health Organization (WHO) and participating pilot country representatives.
About the project
The EDUCARE programme will be governed and managed by an expert steering committee of representatives from Roche, the IAEA and WHO. The first priorities will focus on:
• Establishing a regional training network by linking cancer centres of competence within the pilot countries and conducting cross-training through the network;
• The design and implementation of a cancer control curricula that is appropriate for the specific needs of the region;
• Virtual University for Cancer Control (VUCC): Implementing a web based portal for delivery of curriculum content and establishing a certification process.
The programme will initially focus on four pilot countries: Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. These countries will be able to learn from each other and transfer cancer control skills. The success of the programme will be evaluated and reported by the steering committee on an annual basis.