Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania

Episode 3. Changing narratives – Rethinking cancer treatment in Tanzania.

As a specialised Haematologist, Dr Elifuraha Mkwizu is a central figure in the diagnostics and research practices at the Cancer Care Centre. Having trained as an internal medicine physician in Russia, and then specialised in Haematology in India, he draws some profound comparisons in the way that cancer diseases are managed medically as well as culturally.

For instance, in Tanzania a lymphocytic leukaemia is treated as palliative, or to put it simply, as a terminal state of cancer. However, ‘..cancer should be treated like a chronic disease, like diabetes, like hypertension..it should not be a death certificate to anyone’, says Dr Mkwizu. And so while he and the staff at KCMC are out to change the narrative, as a case in point, the first ever patient with an acute leukemia was fully treated at the centre in 2021. In this episode you’ll hear about the ‘tears of joy’ that the young 29 year old man sheds on every return visit to the clinic.

But there’s still lots to do, and the challenges are many. As Dr Mkwizu explains, there is a desperate need for more diagnostic capabilities and treatment in order to catch diseases in their early stages, and give patients a better chance to get cured, through detailed treatment plans.