How much it costs to fight breast cancer: early detection counts better

Elias Hakizimana

Cancer treatment cost remains a burden in Rwanda, as this is too high that everyone cannot afford. Breast cancer is among the leading cancer diseases which need early detection to get chance of surviving.

Experts say that the burden of high cost of cancer treatment will be shortened by early detection and treatment when the cancer is still at an early stage.

According to Dr Francois Uwinkindi, Director of cancer treatment unit in Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), some measures are being taken to ease the cost.

He says that cancer in Rwanda is treated in two ways namely treatment medicaments, surgery which requires between Rwf3million and Rwf4million.

He says that the cost becomes higher when a patient needs radiotherapy outside the country like in Kenya and India where it takes over $9,000.

“We will have radiotherapy in Rwanda next year in March where this $9,000 could decrease to $2,000 if a patient is treated in Rwanda,” Uwinkindi says.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) says that there is need of early checking to detect cancer and treat it at early stage to ensure patients get chance of surviving.

MoH with partners-non-profit organizations commit to increase efforts to ensure that patients suffering from cancer   are locally treated with less cost.

November 4, 2017 was cancer Ulinzi walk in the country with the major theme “Breast cancer is everybody’s business worth investing in to save life”, the theme that insists on early detection as the best protection.

Ulinzi walk Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa ( BCIEA) from christian life Assembly to the surroundings. Courtesy

Participants were engaged in community health forum and received free clinical breast exam, blood pressure and diabetes screening after the walk.

Early stage breast cancer screening

Diane Mukasahaha, the National Coordinator of Palliative Care said that Rwanda has introduced a palliative care policy to support patients who have reached a stage of not recovering due to late treatment resulted from lack of knowledge and awareness of early checking.

“Girls should physically check if there is something wrong in the breast so that doctors help them at an early stage. We need to strengthen awareness because at an early stage, the treatment cannot be too costly since the health insurance can work,” she said.

Mobilizing funds

Philippa Kibugu-Decuir, the founder and director Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa Inc said that she is in drive to mobilize funds to support women with breast cancer to be able to afford cost of treatment.

“For example I have an initiative where through the campaign of hope that has already kicked off, to mobilize Rwf100 million to support women with breast cancer to pay the treatment cost. That is why today’s walk was also targeting to mobilize Rwf5 million. It is everybody’s business to help save lives of people,” she said.

She explained only two breast cancer patients out of ten die in USA because of financial capacity while in Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa seven patients out of ten die because they cannot afford the treatment cost.

She said awareness is an essential element in early detection of cancer since it helps debunk the myths about the disease.

Kibugu-Decuir said the initiative has helped over 9,000 Rwandan women to acquire basic knowledge about breast cancer such as risk factors, signs and symptoms, importance of early detection and self-awareness

The theme of this year’s Ulinzi walk calls everybody in the fight against breast cancer and encompasses its supporting programs namely education outreach, one Smartphone per Village used by ambassador to educate women about cancer in different forums, Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA) and Breast Cancer Survivors Support Group among others.

Other programmes include Knitted Knockers Program with made in Rwanda knitted Breast Prostheses now known as “Knitted Knockers which are cost-effective and user-friendly alternatives for patients and survivors while wellness program is space where people impacted by breast cancer can thrive as complement to continued treatment

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low and middle in-come countries where resources for prevention, diagnosis and treatment are limited or nonexistent.


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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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