Breast Cancer Control & Prevention in Tanzania

Breast cancer, once thought to be a disease only impacting the West, is steadily increasing in developing countries like Tanzania, which also makes it a major public health concern. With a rising number of breast cancer cases comes a greater need for preventative mammography screenings, a need that is unfulfilled in Tanzania. Routine mammograms are an effective method of early detection and when detected in its earliest stages, breast cancer is highly treatable and patients have a greater chance of survival. But unfortunately, the current situation is quite grim in Tanzania. According to a recent study, researchers found that the majority of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer in Tanzania were diagnosed in advanced stages of the disease. Those diagnosed with advanced breast cancer have fewer treatment options and a greater risk of mortality. Without the use of mammography machines, it is very difficult to detect early stage breast cancer and the people of Tanzania have little or no access to mammography screenings. Thousands have tragically lost their lives in the fight against this disease. In light of this alarmingly dire situation, Humanity First USA has partnered with Radiologists Without Borders and St. Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, New York, to sponsor the training of two individuals from Muhimbili National Hospital, a large teaching hospital in Tanzania.

Radiologist, Dr. Lulu Fundikira and Radiologic Technologist, Mrs. Catherine Semkudi, traveled thousands of miles with the hope of bringing about change in the future of breast cancer care in Tanzania. In a timeframe of about two weeks, Dr. Lulu and Mrs. Catherine were provided the opportunity to observe and train in their respective areas of expertise at the breast cancer facility in St. Lourdes Hospital. Dr. Lulu received hands-on training with the mammography machines and interpretation of the mammogram results. She also observed the intricacies of running a comprehensive breast healthcare center. As a technician, Mrs. Catherine observed how to perform breast imaging, the processing of those images and the placement of items supporting this process. In addition, Mrs. Catherine also had the opportunity to learn the administrative process. To fully empower Dr. Lulu and Mrs. Catherine in their work, Humanity First USA in collaboration with Radiologists Without Borders will be equipping their facility with a digital mammography machine. Once the machine is delivered, Dr. Lulu and Mrs. Catherine will have the opportunity to run an effective breast cancer center, which will include a functioning mammography machine.

The outlook for the future of breast cancer prevention and control in Tanzania is positive. As a team, Dr. Lulu and Mrs. Catherine are better equipped with the knowledge and soon enough the machinery to battle barriers to breast cancer care in Tanzania. Their training, coupled with the allocation of the digital mammography machine, is an invaluable step in the right direction. The potential impact will be tremendous. Early detection and treatment can save thousands of lives.