Kumasi’s steps forward in cancer care

Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, has made great strides in improving its cancer care and streamlining the patient journey from a point of diagnosis to treatment. 

Since joining the City Cancer Challenge initiative in 2018, the city has successfully mobilised a multisectoral group of local stakeholders to collaboratively assess, design and implement cancer care solutions that are tailored to the context of its health system. 

Led by the Mayor of Kumasi, who acts as Chair of the C/Can Kumasi initiative, local authorities, healthcare professionals, academia, and civil society met on Tuesday, 30 April, to evaluate the city’s progress in cancer through the City Cancer Challenge initiative, which has also generated care improvements at a regional and national level. The workshop recognised the collaborative work across institutions and shared progress and learnings from thirteen cancer care projects. 

Today, we are here to celebrate the achievements of the City Cancer Challenge engagement process in Kumasi. As the chair of the City Executive Committee, I’m proud to say that we have seen the smooth completion of most of the projects. CEC members have all contributed to the success we are celebrating.

said Hon. Samuel Pyne, Mayor of Kumasu and CEC chair.

With the C/Can team and its technical and international partners’ support, these solutions were developed by local experts, and endorsed in December 2022 by the Ministry of Health of Ghana. 256 local health professionals, 53 patients and 32 Ghanaian institutions contributed to their design and execution. 

Key results of the C/Can initiative in Kumasi include: 

  • Increased chances of survival for childhood cancer patients by bringing timely referrals for suspected cases from 1% to 25%. This includes creating a referral network of 24 institutions, training over 120 health professionals on symptom awareness and designing a tailor-made app based on the previous paper referral system. 
  • Context appropriate guidelines for the management of breast and cervical cancer endorsed and disseminated by the Ghanaian Ministry of Health as national reference documents. 
  • The procurement of 5 teaching microscopes, a retrofitted room and the provision of equipment and training at a Nuclear Medicine Unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) to support system-readiness for the operationalisation of a SPECT-CT machine. Patients are also being referred for treatment from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Togo. 
  • A laboratory networking project to standardise and operationalise a Laboratory Information Management System between laboratories in Kumasi to increase the quality and reduce delays in the diagnosis of breast and cervical cancer. 
  • Development plans in the areas of palliative care, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy that are ready for implementation following further fundraising efforts.
  • Observerships for cancer surgeons at the Tata Memorial Centre (India) and Aberdeen Royal Institute (Scotland).
  • 45 surgeons received training on improved ways of performing cancer surgeries, conducted by a visit from external experts.
  • An enhanced cancer registry with equipment provision and training for effective data input. 
  • A preliminary assessment of potential health public-private partnerships for Ghana in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). 

To build on the commitment to improving cancer care in Kumasi, the next steps are to scale-up interventions across Ghana, with a focus on the management of breast cancer. Additional projects will be explored based on the unique needs of the community and wider programmes across the C/Can city network which include: 

  • A system readiness project for access to breast cancer oncology medicines in Ghana.
  • Implementing recommendations from The Global Breast Cancer Initiative (GBCI). 
  • Improved timely diagnosis for breast cancer, in collaboration with Siemens Healthineers. 

What’s coming next for the city in 2024: 

  • The expansion of the paediatric referral network to include a further 26 facilities and training of 200 healthcare workers across the Ashanti Region. 
  • An e-learning course on childhood cancer for healthcare workers with the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO).
  • A GBCI workshop in collaboration with WHO on next steps for the implementation of GBCI recommendations in Ghana. 

In Kumasi, I’ve witnessed how meaningful changes to the health system can be propelled by cross-sector collaboration. Today, as we celebrate the remarkable progress made by the city of Kumasi, we stand as an example that when all local stakeholders unite to tackle a complex issue, it can have a transformative impact for the city and the people’s health.

said Isabel Mestres, CEO for C/Can.

C/Can would like to thanks its supporters, and particularly Roche, Novartis, MSD, GIZ, Siemens Healthineers, Varian

Technical partners: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC), African Palliative Care Association (APCA), Institute of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Project ECHO.

Cookie notice

This website uses its own and third-party cookies to improve the browsing experience. Read the Cookies Policy.