DALLAS, TEXAS – February 11, 2013 – A study tour facilitated by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR) brought five doctors from Zambia to Texas last week to spend time at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, George W. Bush Institute, PRRR, and National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. (NBCF). The week-long tour featured visits with clinicians and administrators at MD Anderson as well as PRRR public health experts. This study tour helped identify ways to most effectively exchange scientific knowledge, training techniques, and state-of-the-art clinical strategies related to women’s cancer control.
Dr. Shubhra Ghosh, Project Director of Global Academic Programs at MD Anderson leads the development of collaborative programs between MD Anderson and organizations in Africa to improve cancer care in the region. Dr. Ghosh anticipates that, “MD Anderson will work with the Zambian doctors to develop collaborative programs for training, service delivery and research that will result in an increase in the number of skilled providers trained on comprehensive management of cancer, with a focus on advanced diagnosis and treatment in Zambia. At the same time, greater access to the continuum of services will significantly improve the prospects for cancer patients in the country and region as a whole.”
Of the five Zambian doctors on the tour, two work within the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (MCDMCH), and three lead cancer care at provincial hospitals. Dr. Mary Nambao, Reproductive Health Specialist at the MCDMCH saw the trip as “an opportunity not only to network with leaders at MD Anderson but also to open doors with their sister institutions globally.”
After observing the best practices in the palliative care, breast and gynecologic oncology departments and the cancer prevention clinics of MD Anderson in Houston, the week ended with a visit to the George W. Bush Institute and NBCF in Dallas and Frisco, respectively. At the Bush Institute, the doctors met with former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush to discuss what they learned at MD Anderson and how plans are progressing for the expansion of women’s cancer control in Zambia.
The Bush Institute is a founding member of PRRR, which was launched on September, 2011 alongside Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Activities started in earnest in December, 2011, when President and Mrs. Bush traveled to Zambia to join the U.S. Embassy and Zambian Ministry of Health in announcing the country would be the first official site of PRRR engagement.
The Zambian doctors ended their visit with a trip to NBCF to learn about global efforts to decrease breast cancer prevalence. Dr. Doyin Oluwole, Executive Director, PRRR sees this exchange as just one of the many ways that PRRR partners can influence cancer control in sub-Saharan Africa for the better. “PRRR hopes to facilitate resources to all aspects of the continuum of care for women’s cancers in sub-Saharan Africa, and exchange visits like this provide motivation and knowledge for in-country practitioners to do more with what they have when they return home.”