When Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“the Hutch”) launched its partnership in 2008 with the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) in Kampala, Uganda, there was exactly one oncologist for the entire East African country of 43 million people. Today there are 14 clinical oncologists, and more are being trained every year.

While the oncologist is typically the individual in the white lab coat, the one everyone in the clinic looks to for definitive answers and direction, skilled oncology nurses are the people a cancer patient depends on most. They are the ones who know how to start and maintain an IV, administer the right drugs, check vital signs, alert the doctor to any significant changes, and in the case of UCI, arrange transportation for patients and their families to and from the clinic, a roundtrip journey that can be over 100 miles.

“The most important person on the care team is the nurse,” says Dr. Houston Warren, head of Global Oncology at the Hutch.

A researcher and practicing physician himself, Dr. Warren’s goal is to adapt the work that the Hutch is doing in Seattle for cancer patients all over the world.  In order to do this, the Hutch Global Oncology team is finding ways to increase the number of people who can navigate the complicated world of cancer research, diagnosis, and care. Not just nurses and doctors, but also laboratory technicians, clinical coordinators, and more.

“Training providers at all levels is an important part of our mission,” he says.

Despite the urgency of training more Ugandan oncologists, nurses, clinical researchers and support staff, one human resource challenge that Warren believes can be transformed through technology is the role of the pathologist.

Read the full article about expanding cancer care in East Africa by Andie Long at Global WA.