AstraZeneca Breast Cancer Program in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, AstraZeneca has been working since 2005 to help build local capability in managing breast cancer - the second most common cancer among young women in the country. The company's partner in this project is Axios, an organization that works with the private sector to advance healthcare in developing countries. In the developing world, the incidence of cancer is increasing. It is predicted that 20 million more people will be diagnosed by 2010, and 70% will live in countries that between them will have less than 5% of the resources for cancer control. At the outset of the Ethiopia Breast Cancer Program, the country had only one cancer specialist for the entire population; there was no mammography; no easy access to chemotherapy or hormonal agents; no cancer screening and no national treatment protocols. The program has focused on strengthening diagnosis and treatment capabilities at Tikur Anbessa University Hospital in Addis Ababa. In the last three years, with company help, the hospital has become a centre of reference for breast cancer treatment across Ethiopia. Activities have included developing treatment guidelines, strengthening the referral system, setting up an institutional-based cancer registry, raising awareness of the facilities amongst healthcare professionals and providing training for other physicians in Ethiopia. AstraZeneca's breast cancer medicines, tamoxifen and anastrazole, are also being donated. The impact of the program has been broader than anticipated for what was intended as a small, targeted pilot. By collaborating with the Ministry of Health and other health institutions and by working with the Ethiopian Cancer Association to help strengthen awareness, the benefits reach farther than Tikur Anbessa Hospital. This is a sustainable model that could be replicated in other countries and other disease areas. Benefits to the patient have included reduced time between diagnosis and surgery, down from 12-18 months in 2006 to 3-6 months in 2009.