Honourable Ummy Mwalimu, Honourable Minister of Health of the United Republic of Tanzania,
Ms Stephanie Mouen, Country Director, Agence Française de Développement,
President and Vice Chancellor of AKU and fellow members of AKU Board of Trustees,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies, Gentlemen and Friends,
Jambo and Karibu and Ramadan Kareem
Today marks the beginning of another really exciting journey for the Aga Khan Development Network as we lay the Foundation Stone for the cancer care centre at the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam. We are grateful to Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, to the Ministry of Health and to various other Government authorities for their support and cooperation in enabling us to build the cancer care centre at this strategically important site.
We also extend our immense gratitude to Agence Française de Développement for being a critical partner on this project. Our relationship with AFD goes back many years and spans many initiatives. Their commitment and partnership have shown an incredible commitment to improving health outcomes in East Africa and AFD has been instrumental in our work. Thank you!
This centre will further enable the Aga Khan Development Network to play a pivotal role in promoting cancer care of international standards in Tanzania.
Your continuous support to our endeavours in the health sector is truly appreciated, and for this we would like to convey our deepest gratitude. Thank you! We are fortunate and grateful that you performed the commencement ceremony for the Phase 2 project of the Aga Khan Hospital, and today you will lay the foundation of the cancer care centre and thank you indeed for that again. Following the completion of Aga Khan Hospital’s Phase 2 project, Aga Khan Health Service, Tanzania and Agence Française de Développement undertook a study on the prevalence of cancer in the country.
This study highlighted the need to establish comprehensive cancer care services as cancer is becoming an increasing burden for public health in the country. Statistics from the United Nations Cancer Research Organization (IARC) show that there are 42,000 new cases of cancer each year in Tanzania, with a high mortality rate of over 28,000. Almost 75 percent of those cases are diagnosed at stage 3 and 4. This is a major challenge and affects survival rates. Cervical cancer represents 40 percent of all female cancers in Tanzania and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programmes are still in their infancies, unfortunately. Facilities are few and far between requiring patients to travel long distances to reach facilities for cancer screening, early diagnosis, and treatment. As a result, cancer patients present themselves too often too late.
The cancer burden can be greatly reduced if there is widespread awareness for people to have routine health check-ups, so the disease can be caught early on and easily treated.
The findings of the study above have guided the establishment of the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project, a strategic public-private-partnership, led by the Aga Khan Health Service, Tanzania together with the Government of Tanzania and Agence Française.
Thanks to a 13.3 million Euro grant, 10 million from Agence Française and 3.3 million from Aga Khan Development Network.
This four-year project is an evidence-based comprehensive initiative, aimed at reducing the burden of cancer morbidity and mortality, through a strategy that focuses on the enhanced performance and expanded outreach of the TCCP partner institutions including:
1. The Ministry of Health
2. The President's Office
3. Ocean Road Cancer Institute
4. Muhimbili National Hospital,
5. Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, and with the technical help of the Institut Curie in Paris, France.
Today’s foundation stone ceremony marks a critical project objective of enhancing comprehensive cancer care facilities in this country. The cancer care centre will have two linear accelerators to complement radiation oncology at the Ocean Road Institute and it will work with the public health system to strengthen community cancer care practices, as well as services that are affordable, comprehensive and stretched across the nation. It will include primary preventive services, screening and early detection. The new centre will work with government health facilities, to provide welfare support to needy patients, including beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Fund NHIF.
AKHS Tanzania's continued growth over nine decades is a strong testimony of our commitment to health care and development in this country. Today, AKHS facilities are known for their high level of ethical practices, innovation and provision of quality, safe and evidence-based care. The hub-and spokes-model, with one hospital here in Dar es Salaam, a medical centre in Mwanza and 24 outreach centres across 14 regions of the country, enables our institutions to increase access to quality health services, as well as to work closely with the government and other partners across the health spectrum.
Our institutions contribute to and positively help impact the health of over a million people in Tanzania every year. The patient welfare programme enables non-affording Tanzanians to utilise services at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam and in Mwanza. The programme provides financial support of about 5 billion TZS which equates to US$ 2.2 million annually and this is in addition to the 24 billion TZS which is US$ 10.2 million contributed through subsidised services offered under the NHIF programme.
The Aga Khan Health Services has been working relentlessly to attract international grants to strengthen the health systems in Tanzania, in coordination with the Government of Tanzania and especially the Ministry of Health.
Earlier, amongst other investments, AKHS was able to secure a US$ 14.7 million IMPACT project, funded by Global Affairs Canada and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, aimed at improving access to reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the Mwanza region between 2017 and 2021. The project made a substantive contribution towards reducing maternal and newborn mortality in the Mwanza region, reaching over 1 million beneficiaries.
I thank the President’s Office and the Ministry of Health for exceptional support to the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project, and for being part of the Project Steering Committee, monitoring project implementation. Without your continuous support and guidance, the project could not be successful.
I also thank the Bugando Medical Center, Ocean Road Cancer Institute and Muhimbili National Hospital for their active participation and contributions to the success of this innovative partnership, which we believe, will positively change the landscape in Tanzania for cancer prevention and treatment.
Also, our special appreciation to Institute Curie for their commitment as a full partner primarily responsible for providing technical expertise, and guidance concerning the implementation of the project across the cancer care spectrum.
Also, I extend my thanks and appreciation to all cancer stakeholders such as foundations and survivor groups participating in the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project.
My heartfelt gratitude to all those who have been involved in planning this state-of-the-art Cancer Centre.
On a personal note, I am so very happy to see this event happen today. I have been discussing this project as part of the wider project in Dar es Salaam and in Tanzania with my father for 20 years and I know that he would be thrilled to be here. So, thank you!