“Together Against Cancer”
The UNC Project Cancer Program hosted its 3rd Annual Malawi Cancer Symposium on May 26th-27th, 2021. The symposium was organized by the UNC Project Malawi Cancer Program in collaboration with the Malawi Ministry of Health and with funding from the National Institute of Health. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the 2 day symposium was a hybrid virtual in-person event.
The symposium hosted key stakeholders to present on issues related to cancer strategy, care, advocacy and research in Malawi, including current challenges, future priorities and opportunities to work together across sections. The symposium also provided a platform for both local and international cancer research, care and advocacy stakeholders to exchange information, highlight strategic priorities and identify opportunities for collaboration and personal development. This symposiums goal as the theme suggests was to bring together stakeholders from all levels including senior and junior researchers, international partners, Malawi government, clinical service providers, community advocates and local academic institutions to come “together against cancer”.
The symposium kicked off with opening remarks from cancer program co-director Dr. Tamiwe Tomoka and Malawi minister of health Honorable Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda. The keynote speaker was Dr. Jackson Orem, the director of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). Dr. Orem has been leading UCI since his return to Uganda in 2004. At the time, he was the only trained, qualified oncologist in a country of 26 million people. Dr.Orem played a key role in growing UCI into a national teaching and research institute under the Government of Uganda Ministry of Health affiliated with Makerere University. Today, UCI spearheads all aspects of cancer research and training in oncology in Uganda and is recognized as a oncology center of excellence for East Africa which comprises six countries (Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda).
Other speakers included representative’s from Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and Queen Elizabeth’s Central Hospital (QECH) cancer programs including Dr. Leo Masamba, Dr. George Chagaluka and Dr. Richard Nyasosela. Other presenters included speakers at the forefront of cancer advocacy in Malawi, namely Maud Mwakasungula, the executive director of Malawi’s Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA) and Dr. Beatrice Matanje and Ella Kayira of Think Pink, Malawi’s leading organization in breast cancer awareness. For the first time, a spotlight was given to pediatric oncology including updates from QECH pediatric oncologist Dr. George Chagaluka and Global HOPE medical director Dr. Nmazuo Ozuah. Oncology nursing was also given a spotlight, with presentations on palliative nursing from UNC and Global Hope lead oncology nurses Maria Chikasem and Mercy Butia and presentations on the nursing collaboration and adult oncology nursing between UNC School of Nursing, KCH and Kamuzu College of Nursing.
Scientific presentations included those from the UNC Project Malawi Cancer Program lead researchers and top-scoring abstract submissions. The symposium closed out with presentations highlighting future opportunities for training, funding and career development including a presentation from Kamuzu University of Health Sciences professor, Prof. Victor Mwapasa.
The summary of presenters and submitted abstracts are available below.