Thirteen-year old Sibo Tuyishimire likes to play his homemade violin and race his remote control car, like you’d expect from a boy his age.
But unlike other kids, Sibo has a deadly form of cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Sibo is from Rwanda, but was able to come to the U.S. for a free bone marrow transplant at Children’s Hospital here in Boston. And he’s expected to return to Rwanda later this year.
Until then, Sibo is recovering with a host-family in Concord, Mass.
Sibo’s doctor Dr. Sara Stulac met Sibo during the six years she spent working in Rwanda for the Boston-based nonprofit Partners In Health, the organization that paid for Sibo’s trip here and arranged his free medical care.
Stulac told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer that Sibo is just one of many who suffer in Africa from cancer, a problem that’s largely not addressed.
“There’s a lot of it, it’s not being treated, and it can be treated with relatively few resources,” she said.
Stulac says that Sibo’s case, which required a trip to the U.S., is rare, and that “the vast majority of cancer patients can be treated with relatively few dollars in Rwanda.”
Stulac believes that if the continent developed a better infrastructure to deal with cancer, lives and dollars would be saved.
Facts about cancer in Africa:
- More than two-thirds of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (Partners In Health)
- By 2020, more than 1 million of new cancer cases will be in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Nature Reviews Cancer)
- Common cancers in high-income countries are associated with reasonably high survival — prostate, breast and colorectal cancers. Cancers with poorer prognoses — liver, stomach and esophageal cancers — are more common in less developed regions. (International Agency for Research on Cancer)
- Case fatality from cancer is 75 percent in low-income countries and 46 percent in high-income nations
- Dr. Sara Stulac, Sibo’s doctor and the director of pediatrics for Partners in Health