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Huge cash injection for lung cancer control

Phase two of the College of Health Sciences' Multinational Lung Cancer Control Programme (MLCCP), led by Dr Themba Ginindza, has received a R40 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF).

The project seeks to launch a proof-of-concept incubation for the Cancer Centre of Excellence and Research (CACER) concept by adding a clinical component to the foundation built in phase one of the MLCCP, which is under way and due to be completed in September.

The multinational project across four African countries, namely Kenya, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Tanzania and South Africa, aims to improve access to early diagnostic services for lung cancer by addressing the barriers of cancer care. The team will work with communities and the ministries of health in the countries involved.

According to Ginindza, each year, there are about 1.8 million new cases of lung cancer globally and the disease is the world's highest cancer-related mortality cause. "Despite this, many African countries lack information regarding the epidemiology of lung cancer and its control. There is also the compounding heavy burden of comorbidities in sub-Saharan Africa, including HIV and TB."

Ginindza said the MLCCP worked within a broader scope of BMSF-funded projects, including seven different sites in sub-Saharan Africa. Phase one of the study, funded by BMSF since September 2017, focused on creating lung cancer awareness, identifying pathways of care, strengthening cancer registry and understanding palliative care utilisation.

Phase two complements phase one by including the clinical component; building on the foundations laid by the first phase through adding a clinical component evaluating lung health, histological subtypes and genetics of lung cancer, clinical presentation, treatment outcomes, and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Said Ginindza: "Our longer-term vision is to establish a CACER, which will have a wing of a Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence (LCCE) based at Durban's Addington Hospital and to formalise a holistic approach to service delivery, training and research partnership with UKZN and other BMSF funded partners, such as the University of Witwatersrand-associated Helen Joseph Johannesburg Academic Hospital; the Bugando Medical Centre in Tanzania; and AMPATH in Kenya."

Words: Nombuso Dlamini