The Foundation of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA (the Foundation) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) announced today that the Foundation awarded a USD 1.99 million grant. The five-year grant to ACS will go towards improving support and access to care for people living with cancer in low-and-middle-income countries, particularly in East Africa.

More than 70% of the 9 million cancer-related deaths worldwide are in resource-limited settings, where patients face many barriers in seeking a timely diagnosis and receiving high-quality cancer care.  Patient navigators whether nurses providing cancer education or lay health workers linking patients to transportation services in the community play a vital role in supporting patients from the point of diagnosis at a health facility through their treatment journey.

With support from the Foundation, ACS will fortify its patient navigation program in Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and adapt it for a high need facility in Uganda that is The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), which serves about 200 patients daily.

This grant is a first step toward broad expansion of patient navigation programs to help more patients in resource-limited settings receive timely, high-quality cancer care. As part of this effort, ACS will develop a comprehensive guide and toolkit to develop and implement patient navigation programs, designed specifically for health facilities in low- and middle-income countries. Lessons learned from collaborating with hospitals in Kenya and Uganda will be incorporated into this guide, which ACS will pilot in health institutions in Asia and Latin America.

ACS hopes to demonstrate that resource-limited health care institutions can use patient navigation as an effective tool to improve cancer care. Looking ahead, ACS will help KNH and UCI integrate patient navigation services into the way they deliver cancer care, with the goal of transforming the patient experience so patients continue to receive the timely, high-quality cancer care they need.