Burkina Faso gets new treatment centre

The country recently launched its very first radiotherapy centre!

Monday, April 26, 2021 – In Burkina Faso, breast cancer is the most frequent form of cancer nationwide, accounting for 16% of all new cancer cases in the country. When filtered by sex, this number rises to 25% of new cancer cases in women.[1]

As in many African countries, most cancer cases in Burkina Faso are detected at an advanced stage, due to both lack of awareness and limited access to healthcare professionals. The most recent in-country survey in 2017 recorded less than 1 doctor per 10,000 people – one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world.[2] Late detection makes treatment significantly more challenging.

Low numbers of trained oncologists means patients are more likely to be seen by a non-specialist healthcare professional. This can lead to misdiagnosis, delay, or going straight to drastic treatment options such as mastectomies. Mastectomies are often cheaper for patients and easier for non-specialist healthcare professionals to perform. However, they can also lead to shame and stigma, and become ineffective once a patient’s cancer has metastasised. Once cancer has spread, other treatment options are necessary to improve survival odds.

Our DearMamma campaign, carried out in partnership with AMPO International in Ouagadougou, supports breast cancer awareness activities as a first line of defence. We recognise, however, the importance of having a range of treatment options for patients who discover they have breast cancer.

Until recently, Burkinabe citizens requiring radiation therapy have had no option but to travel outside of the country in order to access it. For the average citizen, the travel alone, let alone the treatment, was simply out of reach.

That’s why we’re pleased to share the news that the country recently launched its very first radiotherapy centre in Ougadougou! The centre will provide a space for training additional cancer specialists, as well as improving odds and saving lives in the fight against cancer.

That’s a milestone worth celebrating.

[1] Global Cancer Observatory (2020). Available at https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/populations/854-burkina-faso-fact-sheets.pdf. Accessed April 2021.

[2] World Bank (2017). Available at https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.MED.PHYS.ZS?locations=BF. Accessed April 2021.