When I was growing up, we had a breast cancer patient in our neighbourhood, who was frequently visited by a traditional healer. Sometimes she would lie outside for the Sun to dry out the wounds on her breast. For many poor people like her, with nowhere else to go, traditional healers are often the first and last line of defense against the most contagious and debilitating diseases. In her quest to seek better healthcare elsewhere, outside a country with few or no treatment options for her, she died on the way. As kids, her situation was incomprehensible to us, and there were many stories circulating about her illness. Years later, with this experience at the back of my mind, Medical Physicists in the Diaspora for Africa (MephidA) was founded to fight against cancer in Africa. Intensifying global oncology collaborations in cancer care research and education would be a game changer, especially for sub-Saharan Africa, where the cancer-care disparities are huge.
It would bring in diverse views, ideas and concepts that would certainly stimulate and catalyze our endeavors to help improve cancer care in sub-Sahara Africa, thereby promoting horizontal technical cooperation and the Emerging Models for Global Health in Radiation Oncology sustainability of existing cancer care centres. It would also attract more international volunteers/mentors in the oncology domain and establish closer links between radiation oncology professionals at home and in the diaspora. Involving more Africans in the diaspora could help facilitate global health collaborations and greater access to quality cancer care for patients in underserved areas.
Medical physicist is not a recognized profession in most African nations and African oncology centers are less involved in the global oncology research/education network.
This can be changed gradually, with more attention being paid to global oncology collaborations in cancer research and the recognition of medical physicist as a profession in those African countries where it is not yet recognized. With an intensive and well-coordinated global collaborative effort in oncology, the whole will be worth more than the sum of its parts, and patients will not have to lie out in the Sun to dry out the cancer on their breasts.
Ortenau Klinikum Offenburg, Germany
MephidA e.V, Germany