New Global Coalition Aims to Eliminate Structural Barriers to Fight Cancer Crisis in Resource-Limited Countries in Africa

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Collaboration on Implementation Science Research in Global Oncology awards $500,000 to eight country-specific pilot projects in quest to develop sustainable best practices

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"We have to look across the spectrum of cancer care capacity building and select certain projects to pilot in different countries, evaluate how they work and, if we, can replicate them in other countries,” said Ute Dugan, MD, co-founder of CIRGO.

A group of global oncology organizations have joined forces to establish the Collaboration on Implementation Science Research in Global Oncology (CIRGO) to improve the coordination of cancer care systems in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa.

As a first step, CIRGO has announced it will award $500,000 in scientific research grants to eight projects in Africa. Each project will receive a $60,000 grant to develop country-specific initiatives that focus on early detection of breast cancer, cancer data quality, improving rural access to cancer testing and diagnostic services and strengthening cancer registries. Each grant recipient will be assigned an expert liaison who will provide assistance throughout the duration of the project. This first round of funding has been provided by the Bristol Myers Squibb.

CIRGO’s mission is two-fold: 1) to coordinate efforts to implement a cancer care infrastructure within resource-limited countries, and 2) to connect potential funding sources with oncology service providers to expand cancer (treatment) services in under-resourced countries and develop systems that can be replicated in other countries.

“We need implementation science research. We have to look across the spectrum of cancer care capacity building and select certain projects to pilot in different countries, evaluate how they work and, if we, can replicate them in other countries,” said Ute Dugan, MD, a co-founder of CIRGO and Senior Vice President for Clinical Research at the Park Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, in San Francisco.

“The only way to implement these solutions is to bring together the funders and oncology organizations to work together on specific projects that have been vetted,” added Dan Milner, MD, MSc(Epi), FASCP, also a co-founder of CIRGO and Chief Medical Officer of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). “That way, they can identify and implement best practices to fight cancer.”

Cancer is a major public health crisis in low and middle-income countries in Africa. Many of these countries lack the necessary health care infrastructure—such as screening, high quality collection of patient data to determine how best to treat patients and access to diagnostics for patients living in rural areas—to improve cancer care.

The individual projects that CIRGO is supporting will take certain aspects of the cancer care system, say screening, and then create implementation projects to work on over the next year. Each project will be studied at the six-month and one-year points and then evaluated to identify best practices.

Each of the participating organizations in CIRGO brings a specific expertise to the table. For over a decade, ASCP has been active in more than 30 countries through their global outreach programs that focus primarily on cancer and HIV. With more than 80 collaborators across the spectrum of health, ASCP works to assess, gap identify, and implement site-specific solutions for improved cancer services.

To learn more about CIRGO, please contact Dr. Ute Dugan at udugan@parkerici.org. Below are all the currently involved groups.

Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
American Society for Clinical Pathology
World Health Organization
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
International Cancer Research Partnership
National Comprehensive Cancer Network
NCI/Center of Global Health
American Society for Clinical Oncology
University of Pennsylvania
University of California San Francisco
UT MD Anderson
The Max Foundation
BIO Ventures for Global Health
University of Chicago/ Nigeria
Clinton Health Access Initiative
Africa Organization for Research and Training in Cancer
Tenwek Hospital
Partners in Health, Inshuti Mu Buzuma, Butaro Cancer Center
Cancer Diseases Hospital, Lusaka Zambia
International Cancer Institute, Eldoret Kenya
Wits Health Consortium, Johannesburg South Africa
Ministry of Health, Eswatini
African Cancer Registry Network

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Sue Montgomery
ASCP
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