The 5.8 million USD Butaro hospital was opened in 2011 by President Paul Kagame, built in partnership with US-based Havard Medical School and Partners in Health (PIH).
The laboratory has saved many cancer patients from Rwanda and from across the continent. This laboratory is the center of cancer treatment services including; screening, chemotherapy, diagnosis, surgery, patient follow-up, and palliative care, among others.
Highly experienced and skilled Physicians aided by the modern equipment diagnose and treat cancer at the cancer centre; conducting cancer tests to more than 1000 patients every year.
“We conducted cancer tests for 1610 patients last year. 570 were diagnosed with cancer mostly breast cancer, cervical cancer and leukemia that affects children,” Dr. Deo Ruhangaza, lab chief, told KT Press.
The doctor further adds that, every hospital can detect signs of cancers, but the expensive modern machines help in processing tests and detecting exactly the type of cancer a patient may have.
“Most patients we received here come from different hospitals where doctors detect signs of cancer and transfer them here for extra tests and treatment,” he said.
Most of the children treated at Butaro hospital have Leukemia and kidney cancer.
According to Dr. Manirakiza, “More than 85% of the children received at the hospital with cancer get treated and return home. The problem is with adults who take long to report to hospital after experiencing symptoms of cancer.”
The laboratory started with only two cancer processor machines but currently has more than 11 processor machines. According to Dr. Nkwanumusingo, the two most expensive processor machines cost the hospital more than $1 million in total.
With cancer treatment extremely expensive, Rwanda saves cancer patients lives and money providing cancer treatment free of charge at the Butaro hospital. The hospital is able to give free treatment due to government subsidy but patients will incur the cost of food, transport and other services outside medical.
Patients traveling all the way from Somalia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and DRC, are also benefiting from the free treatment.
The East African nation has been unable to raise 5 million USD to purchase a radiotherapy unit that will provide the treatment at the hospital. Records show that about 30 percent of 3000 cancer patients received at Butaro hospital before 2015 were transferred to foreign countries for radiotherapy.
Rwanda struggled to get investors to set up a cancer treatment facility with radiotherapy in 2015 but failed to raise the 12 million USD needed.