By DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire
Through the City Cancer Challenge, Kigali city is becoming a beacon of hope, showcasing how technology and data-driven solutions can save lives and improve the well-being of its citizens. Through this initiative, this African city is pushing boundaries and rewriting the future of cancer care.
The issues of integration and collaboration and leveraging on data, connectivity, digitalization are really major aspects that, especially when you speak about integrating health initiative in the smart city framework, needs to be very well thought about.
Speaking, for example, on the initiative that City Cancer Challenge is running, Ms. Marlene Mumukunde, the City Cancer Challenge Manager, explained that “the model is based on leveraging on cities as key enablers for improving cancer care.”
Now the question is why the focus on cities”
Ms. Mumukunde explained that “cities provide a good medium to be able to test and innovate scalable solutions that can later on be scaled to rural areas as well. And this is because, most of the time, cities are much more open to private financing and innovation.”
Ms. Marlene Mumukunde, the City Cancer Challenge Manager speaking at at the recent Africa Smart Cities Investment Summit (ASCIS2023) on “The Urban Integration for Universal Health Coverage in African Smart Cities.”
“And data is much more accessible, as well as connectivity being more readily available compared to rural areas. Therefore, there is a need to focus on scaling in rural areas. Additionally, it is essential to consider utilizing digitalization, such as telemedicine and other digital health tools, to leverage its benefits.” She added…
Ms. Mumukunde stated that one other important aspect is being able to foster collaboration, bringing together different disciplines and sectors to come up with solutions.
“That is what City Cancer Challenge is doing, especially making sure that when we are speaking, for example, about cancer, which is really a very complex disease, that you are bringing together people from different disciplines, people from different sectors to tackle on how we can develop sustainable solutions.” She explains as she intervened in a panel discussion during at the recent Africa Smart Cities Investment Summit (ASCIS2023) on “The Urban Integration for Universal Health Coverage in African Smart Cities.”
On the thing around digitalization and being data-driven, Ms. Mumukunde said that “it really provides a good opportunity to leverage on digitalization to make sure that we are tackling non-communicable diseases, but also other communicable diseases.”
“For instance, in the case of the City Cancer Challenge, we are providing support to the city of Kigali in order to establish connections among various institutions. In Kigali, specifically, cancer care is highly fragmented, as you cannot receive all the necessary treatment options in a single institution. Therefore, comprehensive care is spread throughout the city, requiring patients to be referred to different institutions in order to access the necessary care,” she explained.
“So what we are doing is connecting all those institutions by facilitating data sharing for the clinicians to be able to deliver the care that their patients need.” She said.
“We are also supporting in the city of Kumasi, that is in Ghana, we are connecting laboratories, which is really another important aspect, especially in cancer, making sure that all the laboratories are connected to be able to, again, share data, but also really work together to different laboratories will be having different saturation levels or different modalities of diagnostic services that they’re offering. And if they are connected, they can better serve the people, and then a patient can just go in one facility and be able to access diagnostic modality that they were not going to be able to access in that facility.” Ms. Mumukunde said.
The City Cancer Challenge leads a city-based partnership initiative that supports cities around the world as they work to improve access to quality, equitable cancer care. They do this by transforming the way stakeholders from the public and private sectors collectively design, plan and implement cancer solutions.