- Porto Alegre has embarked on a process to identify, design and develop sustainable cancer care solutions that respond to local needs
- Project focuses on three strategies: improving early cancer diagnosis, reducing delays between detection and diagnosis and strengthening patient navigation
A new two-year collaborative project between the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre and the country’s leading public hospital, Conceição Hospital Group (GHC), has been launched with the aim of improving health outcomes for cancer patients that would bring them into line with those in more developed cities.
Porto Alegre, the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and the country’s fifth-largest metropolitan area, joined City Cancer Challenge (C/Can) in September 2018. Since then, supported by C/Can’s network of local, regional and global partners and experts, Porto Alegre has embarked on a process to identify, design and develop sustainable cancer care solutions that respond to local needs.
With the support of the Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Foundation as part of its Global Cancer Disparities Initiative, C/Can set up a project, Implementation of an innovative and sustainable pilot-model in the city of Porto Alegre to scale up solutions and influence local, regional and national policies, to address the high mortality rate from cancer in Porto Alegre – the city’s leading cause of mortality, accounting for nearly a quarter (23.4%) of total deaths in 2019.1
Isabel Mestres, C/Can’s Director of Global Public Affairs & Partnerships Development explains that the project, which complements the city’s seven priority projects, will further strengthen Porto Alegre’s health system, address access gaps to timely, quality cancer care, and enhance patient outcomes:
“This is a powerful collaboration. The project will catalyse solutions that will shape the future of cancer care in the city of Porto Alegre as well as more widely in Brazil.”
Guided by the core principles of community empowerment and engagement with all levels of government, the project has the potential to positively impact patient survival.
“This C/Can project is exactly the kind of innovative solution that the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation’s Global Cancer Disparities initiative is designed to support,” said John Damonti, president, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.
“Our decades of work to advance health equity around the world have shown us the power of community-based efforts in addressing local needs and improving outcomes for patients.”
Addressing care gaps in cancer care in Porto Alegre
The project is built on three strategies: improving early cancer diagnosis, reducing delays between detection and diagnosis, and strengthening patient navigation, that address key cancer care gaps identified by the city through the C/Can Needs Assessment process. Maria Fernanda Navarro, C/Can Regional Director for Latin America explains:
“This project responds directly to the needs identified by the city; specifically late diagnosis, inefficiencies that create time lags between detection and diagnosis, and a highly complex and fragmented health system – all of which lead to decreased access to care and worse patient outcomes.”
The project will pilot strategies initially focusing on lung and melanoma cancers: lung cancer is among the most prevalent in the country.2
Local collaboration to pioneer innovative and sustainable solutions
Daniely Votto, C/Can’s city manager in Porto Alegre, says one of the drivers behind the project is to develop solutions that will be both sustainable and scalable.
“Key to achieving this will be C/Can’s close collaboration with Conceição Hospital Group (GHC). Through the partnership, the project will be able to reach a wider patient population, including the most socio-economically vulnerable populations, at all three levels of healthcare.”
As the largest public hospital in the country and the leading provider of healthcare services in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and Porto Alegre, partnering with GHC presents a significant opportunity to scale up solutions regionally and nationally.
“Through this project with C/Can, we are looking to pioneer new protocols for early diagnosis, a new model for diagnostic pathways and a strong patient navigation program that will improve our service delivery and that can be scaled to other public hospitals in Brazil to benefit the maximum number of patients,” says Dr Marcelo Eduardo Zanella Capra, Hematologist, GHC and member of C/Can City Executive Committee, Porto Alegre.
Patient empowerment and engagement
The new patient navigation program will help to overcome the identified roadblocks to optimal patient care in the city.
Today, cancer patients in Brazil are faced with a largely fragmented healthcare system, which often results in patients experiencing inefficiencies, delays and bottlenecks in accessing the treatment they need. The new navigation program will explore innovative models that allow fast tracking, stronger referral mechanisms and increased coordination between care services that will ultimately improve the patient journey.