The Coalition for Implementation Research in Global Oncology (CIRGO) has awarded $500,000 in capacity building grants to support cancer implementation research in Africa. Eight projects were selected to receive funding out of a total of sixteen applicants, and each project will receive a $60,000 grant to develop country-specific initiatives that focus on early detection of breast cancer, cancer data quality, improving rural access to cancer testing and diagnostic services and strengthening cancer registries. Each grant recipient will be assigned an expert liaison who will provide assistance throughout the duration of the project. This first round of funding has been provided by the Bristol Myers Squibb company.
CIRGO’s mission is two-fold: 1) to coordinate efforts to implement a cancer care infrastructure within resource-limited countries, and 2) to connect potential funding sources with oncology service providers to expand cancer (treatment) services in under-resourced countries and develop systems that can be replicated in other countries.
“We need implementation science research. We have to look across the spectrum of cancer care capacity building and select certain projects to pilot in different countries, evaluate how they work and, if we, can replicate them in other countries,” said Ute Dugan, MD, a co-founder of CIRGO and Senior Vice President for Clinical Research at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, in San Francisco.
“The only way to implement these solutions is to bring together the funders and oncology organizations to work together on specific projects that have been vetted,” added Dan Milner, MD, MSc(Epi), FASCP, also a co-founder of CIRGO and Chief Medical Officer of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). “That way, they can identify and implement best practices to fight cancer.”
Cancer is a major public health crisis in low and middle-income countries in Africa. Many of these countries lack the necessary health care infrastructure—such as screening, high quality collection of patient data to determine how best to treat patients and access to diagnostics for patients living in rural areas—to improve cancer care.
The individual projects that CIRGO is supporting will take certain aspects of the cancer care system, say screening, and then create implementation projects to work on over the next year. In this round of funding, projects are funding in six countries: Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. Each project will be studied at the six-month and one-year points and then evaluated to identify best practices.
Each of the participating organizations in CIRGO brings a specific expertise to the table. For over a decade, ASCP has been active in more than 30 countries through their global outreach programs that focus primarily on cancer and HIV. With more than 80 collaborators across the spectrum of health, ASCP works to assess, gap identify, and implement site-specific solutions for improved cancer services.