Doctors See Success at Butaro Cancer Center

11 Jun
PIH feature

Photos by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health


Dr. Cyprien Shyirambere examines 6-year-old pediatric oncology patient Frank Mugisha, whose name has been changed, for privacy, at the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence in rural northern Rwanda. Medical staff at the PIH-supported facility have treated several thousand patients, young and old, since it opened in 2012.

Five years after opening, the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence is achieving extraordinary successes in rural northern Rwanda, amid daunting challenges.

Doctors at the Partners In Health-supported facility are treating about 1,700 patients every year, young and old, on the campus of the public Butaro District Hospital. The campus lies amid lush, green hills in a remote region not far from the Ugandan border. Many patients, family members, and caregivers travel to Butaro from across Rwanda or from surrounding countries such as Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where high-quality cancer care is scarce or nonexistent.

Some of Butaro’s greatest successes can be found in its youngest visitors—children who come to the cancer center with slim hopes buoyed by fighting spirits, often with cancer that is in late stages because of treatment delays or misdiagnoses elsewhere.

Patients in the pediatric ward last spring included Frank Mugisha, 6. In March, Frank completed 30 months of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and could be seen around Butaro playing and spending time with family members. Butaro staff will continue monitoring him for the next five years.

Dugan, who’s been a clinical officer in Butaro’s pediatric cancer ward for about a year, said relapse is a constant concern.

“It takes a long period of follow-up to be sure you’ve really cured someone,” she said.

Frank’s story is one of hundreds.

Inside the pediatric ward at the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, a PIH-supported facility at Butaro District Hospital in rural northern Rwanda. Children in the ward often mix in schoolwork, activities, and playtime between treatment and checkups.

While Butaro is very successful, a shortage of health care workers is a key challenge – one that severely impacts Africa. Butaro’s staff often is boosted with support from Dana-Farber and PIH programs.

Jen Haley, for example, is a former Dana-Farber cancer nurse who worked at Butaro as an oncology nurse educator from September to December 2016, through a PIH program.

Haley said she helped nurses at Butaro learn to watch for symptoms at various treatment levels, improve the overall quality of treatment, and educate patients’ families and caregivers about cancer and related care.

“Kids are so resilient. One minute you’re giving them a shot and the next minute they’re running up and giving you a hug,” Haley said.

Butaro’s staff has to be equally resilient, amid limited resources.

They don’t have a CAT scanner, an intensive care unit, or enough nurses. Stocks sometimes run out of needed medicines, and radiotherapy machines are a distant hope.

Shyirambere said he draws strength from successes. Treating children with cancer can be incredibly emotional, he said, but the reward is seeing young patients come back for positive follow-ups, return to school, and resume healthy childhoods.

“You feel like your day has been excellent,” he said.

SAAPHI would like to thank Partners in Health (PIH) for their great work in Rwanda and other parts of the world.

This is an abridged version of an impact story that was originally published in September 2017 at Check out this photo gallery to see more images from Butaro’s pediatric cancer ward. Also, be on the look out for more SAAPHI and PIH webinars to learn more about their global public health work and look out for job opportunities from PIH from the SAAPHI listserv.


SAAPHI 25th Anniversary & Annual Meeting | RECAP

13 Dec

thank you

Thank you for supporting or attending the SAAPHI 25th Anniversary & Annual Meeting! We had great presentations, panel discussions and networking opportunities celebrating excellence in advocacy, research and leadership! Save-the-date for #SAAPHI2018 in San Diego, CA November 2018!


Download Full 2017 Meeting Program Here

Keynote Banner

25th Anniversary & Annual Meeting keynote speaker Dr. Derek Griffith of Vanderbilt University delivers his keynote address “Lest We Forget” the Duality of Blackness: The Art of Pursuing Health Equity“.

DGriffith - Quoteunnamed

Dr(s). Chandra L. Ford, Rebecca Hasson, Bill Jenkins, and Camara Jones discuss SAAPHI’s role over the last 25 years in advocacy, leadership, and research and its past and future members/leaders’ impact on the elimination of disparities.

PresForumQuote1PresForumQuote2SAAPHI 25th Recap- Policy Forum

The Science & Policy Committee organized our inaugural policy forum Navigating Uncertainty:  Working Toward Achieving Health Equity moderated by Dr. Jammie Hopkins of the Morehouse School of Medicine.  Various leaders in policy working in various public health related settings, organizations, federal agencies, and academic institutions,  provided great insight into the importance of policy work as well as how those working in these settings might use their work to inform policy presently and in the future. Panelist included:

SAAPHI 25th Recap

unnamed (1)

Leadership is one of the core founding principles of SAAPHI.   Dr(s). Laurie Elam-Evans, Shiriki Kumanyika, Vickie L. Mays, and Tiffany Gary-Webb provided important perspectives on Building a Legacy of Leadership as panelist on our leadership panel moderated by SAAPHI board member Brittney Francis, MPH.

Panelist shared that In leadership it is important to get involved, teach others, and pass the torch of leadership so others can do the same.

leadership panel quotes

Scientific Symposium

The 2017 SAAPHI Scientific Symposium & Poster Session  “Building Bridges Between Communities, Research, and Policy to Achieve Health Equity” hosted sixteen (16) poster and four (4) oral presentations  from public health students and professionals from various organizations and academic institutions.  Presenters were judged on various aspects of their presentations.  The following were among the top rated poster and oral presentations with several honorable mentions:


  • Sula Hood, PhD | Indiana University | The African American Family Health Communication Project: A Social Network Analysis of Factors Influencing Family Health History Information Exchanges


  • Cagney Stigger | ICF | The Impact of The Affordable Care Act on Trends in Utilization of Health Services for Management and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Among African Americans
  • Paris Adkins-Jackson | Morgan State University | Predicted Self-care and Self-rated Health for Black Women

SAAPHI AwardsSAAPHI 25th Recap - awards2SAAPHI 25th Recap - awards3SAAPHI 25th Recap - Reception 1a

SAAPHI celebrated its 25+ year milestone where it all began at the First Congregational Church UCC of Atlanta.   The First Congregational Church UCC is the second oldest African American Congregational Church in the United States. Additionally, First Church has a rich history of African American organizational firsts that include the creation of the National Medical Association (1894), the Atlanta Interracial Commission (1919), and Atlanta’s first African American Boys Scout Troop.

SAAPHI 25th Recap - reception 1

saaphi legacy

SAAPHI Legacy Series Leading up to our 25th year anniversary celebration, we will be hearing from former and current SAAPHI leadership to learn more about the role that SAAPHI has played in their professional success, how they leveraged involvement in SAAPHI to benefit the African Diaspora, why they were drawn to SAAPHI and their vision for SAAPHI moving forward!

Last in our 2017 series is SAAPHI’s Immediate Past Treasurer and founding SAAPHI member, Dr. Cheryl B. Prince, a Maternal & Child Health Epidemiologist previously work at the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

View Dr. Cherly B. Prince’s video: iTIZ0zA

Special thanks to:

A special thank you to JO our event photographer and Dr. Roberts for his photo contributions. 

SAAPHI Awards 2017

9 Jun


For more details about the nominations requirements:

SAAPHI Award Nomination Form

Nominations Due:  July 31, 2017

DEADLINE EXTENDED!! Nominations Due: August 31, 2017

For more information:

#leadership #advocacy #research #service #mentoring #equity

2017 SAAPHI Call for Abstracts

8 Jun

Call for abstracts bannerSAAPHI Call for Abstracts [2017]⇒ SAAPHI Call for Abstracts [2017]

For more information:

#healthdisparities #healthequity #policy #community #research #AfricanDiaspora #SAAPHI25th

Global Health Webinar | Partners In Health

11 Apr

SAAPHI PIH Webinar-page-001

Join the Membership & Professional Development Committee for the webinar series Global Health in Practice with Partners In Health. Learn more about Partners in Health and how their work is making an impact globally.

Date: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 12 PM EST
Topic: Post-Genocide: Building A Sustainable Healthcare System in Rwanda

Webinar Panelists:

Anatole Manzi, Mphil, MPH, PhD(c)
Director of Clinical Practice and Quality Improvement, Partners In Health

Jean Claude Mugunga, MD, MS.
Senior Manager of Monitoring, Evaluation and Quality Improvement, Partners In Health

Lisbee Mumford
Project Manager, University of Global Health Equity

#globalhealth #partnersinhealth #saaphi #publichealth #mpd






SAAPHI Policy Webinar Series

24 Mar

DrJackson - Webinar2

2016 SAAPHI Call for Abstracts

18 Feb


The Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues (SAAPHI) is soliciting abstracts for the  2016 annual scientific symposium to be held in Denver, CO on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at the SAAPHI pre-conference meeting.

The overarching theme of this year’s pre-conference meeting is  Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health

Abstract topics should center on the theme. While abstracts reflecting new and innovative information in any area of public health disproportionately impacting African Americans will be reviewed, presentations on the following topics are of particular interest:

  • Life Course Research (focusing on populations from birth to the elderly)
  • Gender Issues
  • Research focusing on African Diasporic Populations (African-American, Afro-Latino, West Indian and African populations)
  • Social Determinants of Health

In addition, abstracts that reflect integrative approaches to individual and community health promotion using evidence-based research, intervention guided-research, and health policy advocacy are also encouraged.

submission deadline:  April 29, 2016

⇒ 2016 SAAPHI Call for Abstracts