Dar es Salaam. A Sh13.5 billion UK-government funded study was launched yesterday at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) to generate possible technology for early diagnosis of cancer types in children to increase their chances of survival.
Currently, children undergoing cancer test must endure painful needle biopsies of their cancer tumors, which take time and advanced training to process.
Again, a critical shortage of medical healthcare providers in the country (pathologists), is said to be another reason for delayed diagnosis in patients with cancer including children.
The five-year research project to be conducted by researchers from Tanzania, Uganda and Oxford University under the leadership of a project leader Prof Anna Schuh, will help develop a possible solution to improve diagnosis and treatment of cancer types in children in particular.
The local medical teams delivering this research are based at MNH, the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas).
MNH’s Director of Medical Services, Dr Hedwiga Swai said: “We have high expectations that this project will produce important new knowledge that will be translated to patient care,” said Dr Swai who graced the event on behalf of the hospital’s Executive Director Prof Lawrence Museru.
Dr Swai thanked the UK-based National Institute for Health Research for funding the research project, saying the study will generate possible solution to the critical challenges in cancer diagnosis especially in sub-Sahara African countries.
“We hope to bring next-generation genetic sequencing technology and artificial intelligence tools to assist with mobile digital pathology to Tanzania and Uganda and show it can be used to make rapid improvements in medical diagnostics,” said Prof Schuh from the University of Oxford.
At same occasion, assistant Director-NCD services from the Ministry of Health, Dr Sarah Maongezi said the government was determined to improve infrastructure for cancer diagnosis as well as radiotherapy facilities especially in Zonal Referral hospitals.