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Rwandan oncologist wins ASCO LIFe Grant

by Donah Mbabazi Published : May 17, 2020 The New Times

Dr Fidel Rubagumya, a Clinical and Radiation Oncologist at Rwanda Military Hospital has won a $115,000 award through the Long-term International Fellowship (LIFe) grant of the ASCO, Conquer Cancer Foundation.

The announcement was made on Friday, May 15 through the foundation’s website. The LIFe provides early-career oncologists in low- to middle-income countries support and resources needed to advance their training by deepening their relationship with a mentor in the United States, Canada, or European Union.

Dr Rubagumya explained that the LIFe grant is awarded through a competition among oncologists from low-to-middle-income countries who apply and the best application is awarded. “The number of recipients per year depends on the funds available. This year I was lucky to be the only one awarded,” he said.

It was his research application titled "From Theory to Practice: Implementing the Choosing Wisely Africa Recommendations" that won him the grant. He pointed out that the research was built on work that was recently done along with his colleagues and it is titled, ‘Choosing wisely Africa (CWA),’ where they suggested ten recommendations of practices that should be avoided in cancer care on the continent. The work is under review for publication. CWA movement is driven by African specialist physicians, surgeons and patient representative who through a consensus-based process identify common medical practices that do not offer benefit to patients and may cause harm.

He said that with the LIFe grant, he will look at how these recommendations can be implemented in the six East African countries. Dr Rubagumya highlighted that the fellowship will also help him develop advanced training in clinical cancer research.

“The focus of my research relates to access to care, quality of care and outcomes in routine clinical practice. This is incredibly relevant for cancer system strengthening in sub- Saharan Africa and Rwanda in particular.

With these skills, I will be able to start my own health services’ research programme in Rwanda and more importantly will be able to serve as a mentor to other investigators in Rwanda as I seek to build capacity in cancer research.” He added that he is beyond honoured to have won this grant. “Getting awards like this gives you motivation to wake up every morning ready to face the challenges we face while caring for cancer patients. I am grateful to my mentor and host Prof Christopher Booth and a supporting wife who, despite seeing me only a few hours in the week keeps encouraging me to do this work.”

The oncologist will spend a year at Queen's University for a post-doctoral research fellowship and at the same time do clinical work at Kingston General Hospital in Canada.

“My attachment at Kingston General Hospital will equip me with more knowledge especially in managing cancers, this knowledge will be shared with my colleagues at Rwanda Cancer Centre to improve care we give to our patients,” he said.

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