New Medical Scheme to Train 600 Cancer Specialists in East Africa Unveiled

The East African Development Bank (EADB) and the British Council in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians (London), has launched a Medical Training and Fellowships Programme to train 600 cancer specialists in the next four years.

According to the Director General of the East African Development Bank Ms Vivienne Yeda, the training will boost the medical fraternity capacity in fighting non-communicable diseases in particular, cancer and neurological disorders in East Africa.

“The East African Development Bank (EADB) Medical Training and Fellowships Programme, managed by the British Council in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians (London), intends to train 600 East African physicians over a period of four years. The focus will be on early detection, research and treatment of cancer and neurological disorders in areas where access to qualified professionals remains a challenge.”

The training comes at a time when the number of cancer cases worldwide is expected to surge by 75% during the next two decades according to WHO Cancer Research. Deaths from cancers have been on the increase in the East African region, with 50 Kenyans dying daily from various forms of cancer. The trend is the same across East Africa, with the main cause being associated with lack of treatment facilities and expertise for treatment, prevention and early detection.

Speaking during the launch of the medical training and fellowship programme, Ms.Yeda said the East Africa Community has for a long time failed to prevent and treat the cancer scourge because of lack of trained and skilled doctors. The ratio of doctor to population in the region is far below the UN standards. Through the East Africa Development Bank Medical Training and Fellowship Programme, we hope over the long term to equip doctors in district hospitals across East Africa with the skills to effectively and promptly diagnose cancer and neurological disorders and facilitate early interventions either at the point of contact or by referral for advanced medical care.”

She added that the programme was an additional investment in the growing list of interventions by the bank to boost skill and capacity to key sectors of the East African economy. The Bank currently supports a scholarship programme for teachers in the US as well as capacity building programme for East African public sector lawyers in the extractive industries.

“The East African Community with a population of more than 135 million has great economic potential, but non-communicable diseases are a major threat to this regions quest to achieve socio-economic development,” said Ms. Yeda.

In the first 3 years of the project, the programme will conduct a series of East-Africa based residential 5-day training courses in neurology and oncology. These will be delivered by a mixed faculty from the UK and East Africa. They will be complemented by a two-year specialist academic and clinical training in the UK for a select number of high cadre doctors in these two disciplines.

The British Council Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa, Mandy Johnson said the programme will create opportunities for doctors within the East African region who aspire to specialise in the medical disciplines of oncology and neurology. Their training will bring much needed skills to the communities they serve.

“We are pleased that the partnership with EADB and the Royal College of Physicians brings global expertise into the East African Region and will lead to a rich exchange of skills, expertise and experience. We hope that the programme will lead to better health for the people of East Africa,” Said Mandy Johnson, the British Council Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa.

At the same time the CEO of the Royal College of Physicians Ian Bullock, added that the programme will aid in improving not only the skills of the doctors but also help in saving lives;

“I am extremely proud that we have this opportunity to use our expertise to support our colleagues in the East African region. This programme is an excellent example of the Royal College of Physician’s aim to improve care for patients and to develop physicians throughout their career by increasing access to high quality postgraduate training.”

Notes to Editors:

Regional Training Courses in Oncology and Neurology

Over the first 3 years of the project, the project will conduct a series of between 5 and 7-day residential training courses in neurology and oncology delivered by a mixed faculty from the UK and East Africa. The training approach for neurology would be a linear periodic programme with 4 trainings for each year engaging 20 participants in each cohort of two countries per training (10 from each country). For oncology, to allow for rapid dissemination of information as well as country-specific content and sustainability, a cascade model of courses is proposed with the first series of Training of Trainers courses in two countries bringing together a cohort of 20 (10 from each country).

Specialist Fellowships

As part of increasing specialism in East Africa and to develop a pool of expertise in oncology and neurology, the programme will provide 2-year specialist academic and clinical training in the UK for a select number high cadre doctors in these disciplines. With permission and support of the respective governments and other factors permitting, the fellowship will target doctors keen on specialization and with some foundation in medical practice and will comprise both academic and clinical training in partner universities and leading university hospitals in the UK.

Post-training Networking

As direct intervention aimed at sustainability and retention of trained doctors in East Africa, the British Council working with RCP and the partner institutions in East Africa will support the establishment and consolidation of a thriving network of fellows in the respective countries. The network will be both a country-based and regional outfit with strong engagement on emerging concerns and new solutions in the fields of oncology and neurology.

The East African Development Bank or EADB is the apex financial institution for the East African Community. EADB’s mission is to promote sustainable socio-economic development in East Africa by providing development finance, support and advisory services. In addition to development finance and related services, it performs key roles in regional integration including offering development advice to member states of the East African Community.

The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Its purpose is to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people worldwide. It seeks to achieve its aims by working in education, science, sport, governance, English and the arts.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) was formally founded in 1518 and is the oldest continuously active professional standards organisation in the world. The RCP has supported and represented physicians for nearly 500 years. The roots of the RCP stretch back to Henry VIII but today the 30,000 members work in the fast-paced, ever-changing, highly technological world of medicine in the UK and cross the globe.