Cancer Care in the Republic of Mauritius

Jun 25, 2015

This fall, ASCO International will lead a Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course (MCMC) in the Republic of Mauritius to promote interdisciplinary cancer management. In anticipation of this event, ASCO Connection spoke with the local host of the upcoming MCMC and the first Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO International Development and Education Award (IDEA) recipient from Mauritius, Nilufer Jasmine Selimah Fauzee, MBBS, MD.

In the following interview, Dr. Fauzee discusses the state of cancer care in the Republic of Mauritius and goals for the upcoming MCMC workshop.

AC: How would you describe the current state of cancer care in Mauritius?

Dr. Fauzee: Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa with a racially mixed population of 1.3 million. In 2013, life expectancy in Mauritius was 70.6 years in males and 77.7 years in females. Cancer is a public health problem and represents the third leading cause of death in Mauritius (causing 13.4% of all the deaths in 2013), after diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Sixty percent of patients with cancer are female, and the Mauritius National Cancer Registry reports that in 2013, breast cancer was the most common cancer in females, followed by cervical and endometrial cancer. For males in Mauritius, the incidence of colorectal cancer is the highest, followed by prostate and lung cancer.

In Mauritius, we have an extensive free health care delivery system with five regional hospitals and a populationdoctor ratio of 616 inhabitants per doctor. In regards to cancer care manpower, there are 12 radiation oncologists, 40 general surgeons, one dedicated breast cancer surgeon, and around 20 pathologists practicing in the Republic of Mauritius.

However, we have a certain number of challenges that still need to be addressed, such as limited access to targeted drugs, palliative care, cancer research, and molecular laboratory testing. Additionally, a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care is not currently the norm in Mauritius.

AC: What are your goals for the upcoming MCMC workshop?

Dr. Fauzee: The main goals for this MCMC are to develop a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach to breast and cervical cancer care, assist in establishing clinical practice guidelines, and cultivate teamwork, including working with nonmedical professionals in Mauritius. The MCMC will also help validate the national treatment guidelines, improve proceedings and outcomes of the MDT, and bring a focus to palliative care.

AC: How do you hope to use this educational opportunity to further the development of cancer care in Mauritius?

Dr. Fauzee: The MCMC will set up various tumor boards for the management of cancer cases, help doctors of various disciplines learn more about their roles and responsibilities, and bridge the gap of silence that has always existed among doctors of different disciplines in Mauritius.

AC: What led you to pursue oncology as a career?

Dr. Fauzee: I come from a family of doctors and since I embarked on my medical studies, I have always been interested in the pathology of diseases. Following my undergraduate courses, I continued my postgraduate studies in this field, and now I am in the pathology department (with a special interest in breast cancer) at Victoria Hospital.

AC: What do you see as the role for organizations such as ASCO to support career development and cancer care in your country and region?

Dr. Fauzee: Since Mauritius is a small island and a developing state in the African region, it will definitely be beneficial to have a renowned international collaboration with ASCO, as it will help young career-guided oncologists pave the way for the future by improving cancer care and research in Mauritius.

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