Cancer control at the district hospital level in sub-Saharan Africa: An educational and resource needs assessment of general practitioners

Allison N. Martin, Kelly Mariella Kaneza, Amol Kulkarni, Pacifique Mugenzi, Rahel Ghebre, David Ntirushwa, André M. Ilbawi, Lydia E. Pace, Ainhoa Costas-Chavarri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


PURPOSE The WHO framework for early cancer diagnosis highlights the need to improve health care capacity among primary care providers. In Rwanda, general practitioners (GPs) at district hospitals (DHs) play key roles in diagnosing, initiating management, and referring suspected patients with cancer. We sought to ascertain educational and resource needs of GPs to provide a blueprint that can inform future early cancer diagnosis capacity–building efforts. METHODS We administered a cross-sectional survey study to GPs practicing in 42 Rwandan DHs to assess gaps in cancer-focused knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as delays in the referral process. Responses were aggregated and descriptive analysis was performed to identify trends. RESULTS Survey response rate was 76% (73 of 96 GPs). Most responders were 25 to 29 years of age (n = 64 [88%]) and 100% had been practicing between 3 and 12 months. Significant gaps in cancer knowledge and physical exam skills were identified—88% of respondents were comfortable performing breast exams, but less than 10 (15%) GPs reported confidence in performing pelvic exams. The main educational resource requested by responders (n = 59 [81%]) was algorithms to guide clinical decision-making. Gaps in resource availability were identified, with only 39% of responders reporting breast ultrasound availability and 5.8% reporting core needle biopsy availability in DHs. Radiology and pathology resources were limited, with 52 (71%) reporting no availability of pathology services at the DH level. CONCLUSION The current study reveals significant basic oncologic educational and resource gaps in Rwanda, such as physical examination skills and diagnostic tools. Capacity building for GPs in low- and middle-income countries should be a core component of national cancer control plans to improve accurate and timely diagnosis of cancer. Continuing professional development activities should address and focus on context-specific educational gaps, resource availability, and referral practice guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Global Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer control at the district hospital level in sub-Saharan Africa: An educational and resource needs assessment of general practitioners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this