Last Wednesday I was able to attend and support the National Cancer Institute’s 3rd Symposium on Global Cancer Research; a satellite meeting to the 6th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference in Boston. Partnering with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and CUGH, the Symposium featured speakers from various cancer disciplines including Dr. Larry Shulman (Dana-Farber), Dr. Sudha Sivaram (CGH), and Dr. Clement Adebamowo (University of Maryland). The Symposium centered on the theme of implementation science, a field which studies the integration of research findings and evidence into healthcare policy and practice. Attendees from universities, hospitals, government, and research institutions discussed the importance of assessments, site commitment, and data-set availability to prove the safety and effectiveness of cancer care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
A personal highlight was the interactive sessions; an opportunity for participant groups to tackle hypothetical implementation science situations encountered in LMICs with regard to pathology, cervical cancer, radiation, and pediatric oncology—challenges similar to those we undertake daily at CGH. I was able to brainstorm alongside researchers with backgrounds working in Haiti, Botswana, and Rwanda to identify the barriers to implementation in our assigned country and determine how funds could be effectively used to combat these deficiencies in both the short-term and long-term. One of our recommendations was to establish supply chain interventions, to ensure the availability of pathology materials. Another encouraged support staff training for slide preparation, allowing the limited number of pathologists in the country free to spend their time diagnosing tissue.