“The leading cause of destitution among poor people is catastrophic illness.”- Paul Farmer
Yesterday, Paul Farmer visited the LIVESTRONG Foundation Headquarters to share insights about the global cancer burden and perhaps more importantly, the opportunities that exist to positively impact global cancer control.
5 years ago in Haiti there was no organized cancer care offered in the country. Very few people with cancer were diagnosed and those that were had very few options for treatment. Patients either had to pay for expensive treatments out of pocket or even travel to other countries to receive the care they needed.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation has been working with Partners in Health (PIH) to change this. In October 2010, the Foundation awarded PIH and their sister organization in Haiti, Zanmi Lasante (ZL), a grant of $1M over three years to build a cancer care program in Haiti. The goal of this three-year grant is to build upon existing health programs and partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health to launch the first comprehensive and integrated cancer program. The program will work to detect cancers at earlier stages when they are potentially curable, to train clinician and community health workers, to strengthen diagnostic and treatment capacity, to establish protocols for drug procurement and to optimize palliative care for patients with advanced cancers.
Already, after 2 short years the program has:
*Screened 4,853 women and treated 146 women for breast cancer
*Screened 3,071 women for cervical cancer
*Treated 378 VIA-positive patients with cryotherapy and/or referred to a higher level of care
*Treated 61 patients for other cancers
*Provided 34 patients with palliative care
PIH has accomplished tremendous progress in the fight against cancer but much remains to be done. Experts now estimate that the incidence of cancer may double in poor countries by 2030. Unfortunately, this problem is made even more troubling by the fact that only 5% of global resources to fight cancer are spent in these countries. The work done by Partners in Health will help tremendously in addressing the growing cancer burden in Haiti and will help globally by demonstrating that high quality cancer care is possible in even the most resource-limited settings.