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Workshop launches new GCRF-funded research project 'Innovation for Cancer Care in Africa'

5 December 2018

The Open University hosted the inception workshop for its new GCRF Inclusive Societies project on How to link industrial and social innovation for inclusive development: lessons from tackling cancer care in Africa (now shortened to Innovation for Cancer Care in Africa (ICCA)) on 15-19 October 2018.

Project team members from Kenya, Tanzania, India and the UK spent a week on the Milton Keynes campus planning this international research collaboration. The research aims to generate scenarios that link industrial development to improved access to cancer care within East Africa.

At present cancer sufferers in East Africa are often diagnosed late, and access to care is limited and for many financially inaccessible. Cancer incidence is rising and posing a severe economic and social burden. Meanwhile, low cost options for cancer diagnosis and treatment are emerging, notably in India.

The workshop planned the first year of the research in detail. It includes East African investigation of the needs for cancer care and the gaps in coverage, as well as opportunities for improvement. In India, the research team will investigate recent Indian lower-cost cancer-related innovations including new therapies, lower-cost medication, vaccines and diagnostics. In Tanzania and Kenya the teams will also work with industrialists to investigate the scope for innovative local industrial production, shortening supply chains and improving supplies to the health system.

In addition to the hard work of redrafting and agreeing research tools, the workshop was a welcome chance for the international team to get to know each other: there was a lot of laughter and also a good deal of sadness at the scale of problems cancer sufferers are known to face. We are hoping to make a real contribution towards improving their situation.

Maureen Mackintosh, Professor of Economics and Project Lead

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