A novel oncology training initiative for HCPs

This is a workforce development program to build skills capacity in oncology care in Sub-Saharan Africa
Academia or research institute 1

Cancer Kitso: Designed for This Moment

Continuing education for health care providers is a feasible tool that has proven effective in improving care delivery around the world. Cancer Kitso: Clinical Management of the Common Cancers is an oncology provider training initiative for non-oncology health care professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. Kitso means “knowledge” in Setswana, a local language in the sub-Saharan African country of Botswana.

The Cancer Kitso concept is based on KITSO AIDS, a national workforce development program that was launched in the late 1990s in Botswana, when that country had the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world. The success of KITSO AIDS led to its adoption by multiple other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Today, KITSO AIDS is one of the gold standard programs acknowledged by UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment targets.

Using a similar workforce development framework, Cancer Kitso was created and piloted in Botswana to educate different cadres of professionals on the clinical management of the common cancers. The Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health, which led the development of Botswana’s Cancer Kitso program, also is laying the groundwork to roll out Cancer Kitso in Lesotho and Tanzania. As with KITSO AIDS, the aim is to roll out Cancer Kitso in multiple other sub-Saharan African countries.

The building blocks of Cancer Kitso include:

  • Needs Assessment – A quantitative and qualitative needs assessment was conducted in Botswana to understand the gaps in cancer care and prevention. The report, published in May 2022, addresses the critical gaps, needs, and provisions of cancer services. The recommendations include timely access to cancer services, concerted efforts to implement screenings and early detection programs, patient navigation and other referral pathways, and training opportunities in cancer prevention, screening, early detection, treatment, survivorship, and palliative care.
  • Stakeholders’ Engagement – Partnerships with government ministries that oversee health, health care facilities, and academic institutions have facilitated engagement with various professionals to gain insights and feedback in Botswana, Lesotho, and Tanzania. These efforts have included in-person and virtual meetings, workshops, and site tours at health care facilities. In addition, leaders from health care facilities were actively involved in selecting participants for the pilot training program in Botswana.
  • Curriculum Development – The Cancer Kitso curriculum was developed by an interprofessional group of oncology experts including nurses, pharmacists, and physicians from Botswana, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Led by a curriculum development specialist, faculty and clinicians with expertise in oncology formed five teams to develop and deliver the instructional material. This material integrates current oncology standards and evidence-based clinical management practices.

Our training initiative responds to the need for high-level investment in comprehensive cancer care and prevention in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), as recognized by the World Health Assembly in 2017. Due to the rising incidence and mortality of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there is an urgent need to integrate and scale-up national cancer prevention and control programs. The fight against cancer requires a community of practitioners and leaders for the translation of best-practices and innovation in the region. With support from Bristol Myers Squibb, Rutgers Global Health Institute is proposing to launch Cancer Kitso: A Novel Oncology Workforce Training Initiative for Healthcare Professionals in Eastern and Southern Africa. The Setswana word for ‘knowledge’ is ‘Kitso’. This program leverages the academic institutional strengths of Rutgers University and collaborative partnerships with African Ministries of Health including Botswana, Lesotho, and Tanzania, to upskill the knowledge and capacity of healthcare professionals (HCP) for impact on cancer care and prevention.

The goals of this education program are to:

  • Develop a fit-for-purpose oncology training program that reskills and upskills HCPs across public health facilities as collaborative partners in cancer management.
  • Improve patient-centered care through team-based approaches, alignment of cancer[1]related services, referral pathways, and patient navigation.
  • Evaluate the workforce development program in response to health equity and the Ministries of Health strategic plans for cancer care and prevention.
  • Grow national and institutional support for Cancer Kitso as a regional Eastern and Southern African effort.


The initiative will have a certified education experience initially for 380 HCPs, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and allied health professionals, through the following learning series:

  • Fundamentals of Cancer Care and Prevention course – 10 modules, 2.5 hours over 10 weeks
  • Oncologic Emergencies course – 10 modules, 2.5 hours over 10 weeks
  • Advanced Clinical Cancer Management in Africa Immersion Program – 6 workshops, 2 hours over 6 weeks


Our educational outcomes for Cancer Kitso are to:

  • Equip healthcare professionals with specialty knowledge, technical and non-technical skills, individual and team-based skills, and the confidence to recognize, treat and co-manage oncology care and prevention;
  • Appreciate the contributions from different healthcare professionals to the continuum of cancer care and prevention;
  • Align resources at health facility catchment areas to ensure screening, early detection, referral pathways, and follow-up is conducted in a timely manner.
Geographic Reach
Disease Area
  • Non-communicable diseases
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Rutgers Global Health Institute