Background: The majority of the world’s poorest women (income < $1.90/day) reside in fragile, conflict and violence (FCV)-affected countries, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Health services in these settings have traditionally focused on immediate relief efforts, communicable diseases and malnutrition. Recent data suggests there is need to widen the focus to include cancer, as its incidence and mortality rates are rising.
Methods: Employing competency-based learning strategies, Congolese health professionals were trained to perform same-day cervical cancer screening and treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix; same-day clinical breast examination and breast ultrasound diagnostics; surgical treatment of invasive cancers of the breast and cervix; and infusion of cytotoxic chemotherapy. Outpatient breast and cervical cancer care clinics, a chemotherapy suite and surgical theatres were outfitted with equipment and supplies.
Results: Combining local and regional hands-on training seminars with wise infrastructure investments, a team of US and Zambian oncology experts successfully implemented a clinical service platform for women’s cancers in a private sector health facility in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Conclusion: We forged a novel partnership between oncology health professionals from Africa and its Diaspora, international philanthropic organisations, a cancer medicine access initiative and an established African cancer centre to build women’s cancer services in a FVC-affected African setting.