Good Samaritan Cancer Hospital (GSCH) is a non-profit, private, 100-bed health care institution founded by the ‘Missionaries of Compassion, inaugurated in February 2020, located in Ifakara, Kilombero District, Morogoro region. GSCH provides comprehensive cancer care that includes investigations and treatment of pre-malignant and all types of malignant cases. The hospital serves Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, Lindi, Mtwara, Rukwa, Ruvuma, Songwe regions and it is also accessible to patients from neighboring countries.
Services offered span a broad range for cancer diagnostics and treatment including; OPD, IPD, ICU, Counselling, Palliative care, Pharmacy, Diagnostics (CT Scan, X-Ray, Mammography, Ultrasound, Echo, ECG, Medical and Histopathology Laboratory Services), Treatment (Minor and Major surgeries, Chemotherapy, Cryotherapy, Radiation Therapy including external beam radiotherapy - EBRT and Brachytherapy). Since its inauguration in February 2020, outpatients have grown by a factor of 7x. During the past year, it has been observed that the most prevalent malignancies at GSCH have been observed to be cervical, breast, and prostate cancer, accounting for 63% of all types of malignancies.
The founders established the first rural cancer care hospital in Tanzania (GSCH) into existence. GSCH Ifakara provides modern Radiotherapy treatment techniques using 3D-Conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) and Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) with the latest Halcyon state of art LINAC machine, the first in rural Tanzania and the third in all of Africa. Moreover, the hospital is the first in Tanzania to provide 3D Brachytherapy for cervical cancer treatment.
Upon understanding the state of public health knowledge towards cancer, medical teams from GSCH consisting of oncologists, laboratory personnel and nurses – through the Rural Outreach Programs (ROP) – conduct cancer awareness and free cancer screening camps in different rural areas of Kilombero District. During the camp, all participants are given health education which includes the reasons for conducting screening, risk factors for different cancers, preventive measures and different methods of treatment. Consent is taken from all participants before screening.
As a precaution, HIV screening is performed for all participants after consenting. Cervical cancer screening is performed using Visual inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) and Visual Inspection with Lugol’s Iodine (VILI). The results are communicated privately to the individuals by means of a health card. Women with VIA/VILI positive results are referred to GSCH for further management. Patients with negative results are advised on follow up. Similarly, breast cancer screening is performed for women and prostate cancer testing (PSA) is done for male clients as per screening protocols.
Over the past year (2020-21), GSCH teams screened adults in several rural outreach camps, and the results were concerning.
In light of these results, there is clearly a need for increasing free cancer screening and health education in the community.The painful reality regarding financial status of majority of the population in rural areas of Tanzania is that they belong to poor socio-economic backgrounds. They find it hard to travel for screening, consultation and treatment.
The priority is to serve rural communities through cancer prevention, early detection of cancerous lesions, and treatment. Consequently, GSCH has focused on social and national health objectives and aims to grow cancer care capacity and modernize cancer care in rural Tanzania. In addition, GSCH intends to leverage its Rural Outreach Program (ROP) to raise general and cancer health awareness among rural communities and provision of free cancer screening.
GSCH seeks support to create awareness and raise funds to enable medical teams to reach out to rural communities. Data has shown that breast, cervical, and prostate cancers are the most prevalent among the communities. Cervical pre-cancerous lesions can be treated in the camp by Cryotherapy. Cervical lesions that are not fit for Cryotherapy and other suspected malignancies shall be treated at GSCH Ifakara. Ultimately, the ROP will prevent late-stage presentations and metastasis (spread of cancer across organs). As a result, lives would be saved and public health would be improved among communities in rural Tanzania.