The East African Development Bank (EADB) and the British Council in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians, RCP (London), have launched a Medical Training and Fellowships Programme to train 600 cancer physicians in the next four years.
According to the Director General of the East African Development Bank Ms Vivienne Yeda, the training will boost the medical fraternity’s capacity to fight non-communicable diseases in particular cancer and neurological disorders in East Africa.
“The East African Development Bank (EADB) Medical Training and Fellowships Programme will focus on early detection, research and treatment of cancer and neurological disorders in areas where access to qualified professionals remains a challenge,” said Ms. Yeda.
Speaking during the unveiling of the programme, Yeda said the training comes at a time when the number of cancer cases worldwide is expected to surge by 75% during the next two decades, according to WHO Cancer Research.
” Deaths from cancers have been on the increase in the East African region, with 50 Kenyans dying daily from various forms of cancer. The trend is the same across East Africa, with the main cause being associated with lack of treatment facilities and expertise for treatment, prevention and early detection,” she added.
Ms. Yeda added that the East African Community has for a long time failed to prevent and treat the cancer scourge because of lack of trained and skilled doctors.
“Through the East Africa Development Bank Medical Training and Fellowship Programme, we hope over the long term to equip doctors in district hospitals across East Africa with the skills to effectively and promptly diagnose cancer and neurological disorders, and facilitate early interventions, either at the point of contact or by referral for advanced medical care,” added Ms. Yeda.
She further disclosed that the programme was an additional investment in the growing list of intervention by the bank to boost skill and capacity to key sectors of the East African economy.
The Bank currently supports a scholarship programme for teachers in the US as well as capacity building programme for East African public sector lawyers in the extractive industries.
Further she added, the East African Community with a population of more than 135 million has great economic potential, but non-communicable diseases were a major threat to this region in achieving socio-economic development .
“The ratio of doctor to population in the region is far below the UN standards, said Ms. Yeda.
She said that the fight against non-communicable diseases and in particular cancer and neurological disorders in East Africa have received a boost with the launch of a medical scheme by the East African Development Bank to train 600 physicians in the next four years.
According to the programme, in the first 3 years of the project ,researchers will conduct a series of East-Africa based residential 5 day training courses in neurology and oncology, which will be delivered by a mixed faculty from the UK and East Africa.
Further the project will be complemented by a two-year specialist academic and clinical training in the UK for a select number of high cadre doctors in these two disciplines.
Speaking at the event, the British Council Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa, Mandy Johnson said the programme will create opportunities for doctors within the East African region who aspire to specialise in the medical disciplines of oncology and neurology, and whose training will bring much needed skills to their communities.
“We are pleased that the partnership with the EADB and the Royal College of Physicians brings the best of the East Africa and the UK, and will lead to a rich exchange of skills, expertise and experience between the people of the UK and East Africa.”
He continued “ We hope that the programme will lead to better health for the people of East Africa and ease the growing burden that non-communicable diseases put on the economies of East Africa”.
At the same time, the CEO of the Royal College of Physicians Ian Bullock, added that the programme will aid in improving not only the skills of the doctor, but also help in saving lives;
“I am extremely proud that we have this opportunity to use the RCP’s expertise to support our colleagues in the East African region. This programme is an excellent example of the RCP’s aim to improve care for patients and to develop physicians throughout their career by increasing access to high quality postgraduate training”, the CEO said