Improving access to cancer care with City Cancer Challenge

Overcoming barriers to access in cancer care

Currently over half of the world’s population lives in cities, with 95% of urban expansion in the next decades anticipated to take place in lower and middle income countries (LMICs). In addition, over 85% of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, occur in LMICs.

As people continue to move to urban environments the world over, this brings an additional challenge of sustainable healthcare infrastructure and planning to national and local governments. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 is to reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, by 2030. This goal highlights the need for communities and nations around the world to improve access to quality cancer care.

Supporting partners in establishing equitable access to quality cancer care

Roche has taken a lead role in an exciting partnership with City Cancer Challenge (C/Can) to support cities across the globe in their efforts to improve equitable access to quality cancer care.

Since its launch in 2017 by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), C/Can has developed a new model of addressing access to cancer care that, for the first time, leverages the city as a key enabler in a health systems response to cancer. C/Can is currently active in eleven cities around the world.

Roche is working with C/Can, along with partners from the private sector including additional healthcare companies and others, to bring an end-to-end, multi-sector health system solution for cancer care at the city level. C/Can engages with cities with populations of over 1 million in LMICs and aims to address the complex array of issues that can hinder access to quality cancer diagnosis, treatment and care. Its mission is to create a global community of cities and partners working together to design, plan and implement cancer solutions to save lives.

For example:

Roche is supporting C/Can to work with Rwanda’s Biomedical Centre in Kigali in setting up a patient navigation programme to improve cancer care for women in Rwanda. The project provides integrated multi-disciplinary care for breast and cervical cancers via an open, secure and inclusive digital platform. The project allows specialists from hospitals in the country’s three main cities to share information to ensure systematic multidisciplinary clinical decision-making.

The participating clinics will now be able to coordinate the best treatment plan across multidisciplinary teams including oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists and pharmacists. Each team will have a designated nurse navigator to follow up on all the stages cancer patients go through, including screening, data entry, treatment, discussion of available health insurance incentives and advocacy. The project is expected to optimise the use of existing healthcare resources, support teleoncology for remote service delivery and be replicated in other C/Can cities so that many more patients can access quality care.

Roche has also collaborated with C/Can to support its network of local, regional and global partners and experts in Asuncion, Paraguay. Together with C/Can, the city embarked on a process to identify, design and develop sustainable cancer care solutions that respond to local needs by bringing together a multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral team including scientific societies and institutions that provide cancer care. Most recently, Paraguay’s Ministry of Public Health and Welfare approved the creation of multidisciplinary Tumour Committees & Guidelines for Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Cancer. In addition, the Ministry has sanctioned the mandatory evaluation of cancer cases in a multidisciplinary manner, obliging the heads of hospitals and institutions that provide services or treatment to cancer patients to set up multidisciplinary Tumour Committees.

In Cali, Colombia Roche is working with local key stakeholders to enhance the comprehensive management of breast cancer. The first national pilot for cervical cancer screening aiming to include 4000 women started in 2021.

Roche is also supporting C/Can’s partnership with Project ECHO to set up a series of virtual telementoring sessions to enable medical professionals in C/Can cities to learn from each other, as well as from international experts in the cancer field. Project ECHO aims to impact one billion lives by 2025 by working with organisations such as Roche and C/Can around the world to replicate the ECHO model. Learn more about what we are doing with Project ECHO.

Widespread access to cancer care

Today, more and more cities are supported in their efforts to close the cancer care gap. In addition to Kigali, Asuncion and Cali, C/Can has programmes in the cities of Kumasi (Ghana), Yangon (Myanmar), Tbilisi (Georgia), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Greater Petaling (Malaysia), Leon (Mexico), Arequipa (Peru) and Nairobi (Kenya); together these have already reached 59.6 million people. Other applicant cities from around the world continue to undergo due diligence that has partially been delayed by the pandemic. These cities will continue the process, with other successful cities to be announced throughout 2022.

In the coming years, C/Can will continue to grow as it pursues its mission of supporting cities around the world as they work to improve access to equitable, quality cancer care. Another ten cities are expected to join the initiative over the next two years with an estimated reach of 100 million people. C/Can will be announcing its next call for applications in 2023.

Find out more at citycancerchallenge.org

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