Through a multi-disciplinary effort between Charles Thomas, M.D., of the Knight Cancer Institute, and Rahel Nardos, M.D., of the Center for Women’s Health, the Women’s Health Research Unit and the Global Health Center’s Footsteps to Healing initiative, OHSU will have the opportunity to help conquer cervical cancer in Ethiopia.
With the help of Thomas and Nardos, Kibrom Hagos, M.D., a radiation oncology resident from Mekelle University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has been awarded a 2015 Long-Term International Fellowship (LIFe) award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Under the mentorship of Thomas, Hagos will spend a year at OHSU, continuing his research and completing a fellowship on radiation and chemoradiation side effects in patients with cervical cancer. This award will allow Hagos to train at OHSU, then return to practice at a new cancer center that is currently being built at Mekelle University in northern Ethiopia. This cancer center will be one of only two centers in the country where radiation therapy will be available, cutting down the current 8-to-12-month wait for radiation therapy for cancer patients.
Hagos is currently finishing his radiation oncology residency in Addis Ababa under the sponsorship of Mekelle University, which is where OHSU’s Ethiopian international work is based. Thomas and Nardos collaborated on supporting this fellowship opportunity for Hagos; they are interested in efforts in Mekelle, in light of the high cervical and breast cancer load in Ethiopia.
OHSU’s global collaboration in Ethiopia
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among Ethiopian women. It is also the leading cause of cancer mortality. According to the WHO/ICO Information Centre on HPV and Cervical Cancer, of the nearly 22 million Ethiopian women over the age of 15, approximately 7,600 are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and roughly 6,000 women die of the disease each year. Compare that to the U.S., where thanks to preventative screenings, cervical cancer does not make the top 10 list for cancers that affect women. The vast majority of new cervical cancer diagnoses and related deaths occur in underdeveloped or developing countries, affecting poor and vulnerable women at the prime of life. Cervical cancer is preventable and, in many cases, curable, if caught in its early stages.
OHSU’s Footsteps to Healing initiative was established to improve women’s health in Ethiopia through partnerships dedicated to clinical service and health care capacity building. It does this through:
- Collaborating annually with Gimbie Adventist Hospital, a rural hospital in Western Ethiopia, to provide over 200 pelvic organ prolapse surgeries
- Partnering with Mekelle University and the Hamlin Fistula Center as well as other stakeholders to strengthen their capacity to provide surgical and clinical care for women with pelvic floor disorders
- Helping build one of the strongest educational, clinical and research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa through an obstetrics and gynecology residency program at Ayder Referral Hospital at Mekelle University College of Health & Sciences in response to the shortage of ob/gyn providers