The oncology project is relatively new and so far a team from Brighton have visited their counterparts in Zambia to meet and identify areas of joint working. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally (accounting for about 1 in every 6 deaths), of which approximately 70% occur in low- and middle-income countries. Growing international concern at the paucity of cancer services in these resource poor settings has led to all United Nations Member States to adopt Sustainable Development Goals with the aim to reduce cancer-related deaths by a third in the next 15 years.
Under the auspices of the Brighton Lusaka Health Link, the Sussex Cancer Centre and the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) in Lusaka have agreed to a training partnership to build a specialised clinical oncology service by the creation of a cost effective and sustainable programme. The CDH is a government funded modern centre situated in the capital city Lusaka and serves the whole of Zambia. In 2017, CDH treated approximately 2500 new patients, which is about quarter of estimated cases nationwide. It provides care for all adult and paediatric malignancies, except for leukaemias. CDH has good radiotherapy and chemotherapy capability, making it an ideal training centre. There is a well-developed radiographer training programme that takes students from across Africa.
To provide a comprehensive cancer service across Zambia an estimated 120 clinical oncologists will be required. Currently Zambia only has 7 clinical oncologists. Prior to February 2018, there was no local training programme in clinical oncology in Zambia and all specialists were expensively trained in South Africa. Establishing a local training program in Clinical Oncology was vital to reduce the costs of training. The Curriculum, approved by the Zambia Colleges of Medicine and Surgery, is a four-year postgraduate training programme.