Else Kröner Cancer Center – Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

Since roughly 10 years the Medical Faculty at the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg has been involved in Ethiopia under the direction of PD Dr. Eva Kantelhardt in order to improve oncological healthcare for women, above all in rural regions.
Partners from Addis Abeba and Halle at a joint planning workshop in Ethiopia in 2018

Project management: Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg, PD Dr. Eva J. Kantelhardt

Partner country: Ethiopia

Local partner organization: Addis Ababa University (AAU)

Term: 5 years

Better screening and healthcare for breast and cervical cancer in Ethiopia
The closely knit partner is an interdisciplinary team under the direction of Dr. Adamu Addissie from Addis Ababa University. As a result of EKFS funding from 2017 to 2019, more than 3,000 women were already able to take part in screening for the early detection of cervical cancer.

According to the WHO, in Ethiopia alone – with a population of 100 million one of the most populous countries in Africa – an estimated 68,000 new cases of cancerous disease were diagnosed in 2018. In contrast to the average worldwide, in Ethiopia around two thirds of the people afflicted with cancer are women. Breast and cervical cancer are the most frequent cancerous diseases, which in many cases end fatally due to diagnosis and therapy that have occurred too late. Since many Ethiopian women lack financial resources or are bound too strongly into family relationships, they often don’t see a doctor until it’s much too late. What’s more, over 80 % of the population lives in rural regions and consequently has only very limited access to adequate healthcare facilities.

80 %
of the population
lives in rural regions and has only limited access to adequate healthcare facilities

While the mortality rate for cervical cancer has been able to be reduced by nearly 80 % in Western countries due to extensive prophylactic measures and early detection strategies such as screening, and with early detection mammary carcinomas are able to be treated effectively too, the situation in Ethiopia looks completely different. The country’s only fully equipped oncology center at Addis Ababa University is overcrowded, has very long waiting times, and is unable to cover needs within the country. As for preventive measures, for example vaccinations against human papillomaviruses (HPV) which cause cervical cancer, here too measures have just begun in the case of young girls.

new cases of cancerous disease in Ethiopia
in 2018 according to the WHO

Based on these years of accumulating experience and progress, the special funding from EKFS is intended to flow into this project designed for 5 years toward improving and decentralizing oncological healthcare. All activities shall be closely coordinated and agreed with the Ethiopian government’s cancer team. This is supposed to strengthen existing state programs and strategies toward combatting cancer. For instance, the Ethiopian government and stakeholders have begun to fully equip 6 new regional oncology centers in Jimma, Gondar, Hawassa, Mekelle, Haramaya and St. Paul. These centers currently offer only a limited selection of chemotherapy treatment.

Tikur Anbessa University Hospital Addis Ababa
Patients at Butajira Hospital
PD Dr. Eva J. Kantelhardt and Mr. Muluken Gizaw, head of the EKFS project in Ethiopia 2017 to 2019

Nationwide screening for cervical cancer is being set up by the government above and beyond the aforementioned. The partners support these activities through quality assurance and a sustainable educational and advanced training program. Equally in the planning phase is the establishment of an Else Kröner Cancer Center for women in Addis Abeba. In the future, women suspected of having breast or cervical cancer are supposed to receive a modern diagnostic examination and therapy recommendation from the staff at Addis Ababa University on a timely basis. The new Cancer Center will also serve as the site for educational and advanced training for the men and women on staff at the new regional oncology centers. Planning here additionaly includes close cooperation with 8 rural regional hospitals and their respective health centers in order to optimize cervical cancer screening. Reinforcement for this is intended to be provided by developing a system on the community level whereby existing local structures support cancer patients in the long term on a psychosocial basis, too.

You can obtain more information from the website of the University Hospital Halle (Saale).