Thanks to the outstanding support of the Society of Urologic Oncology, Dr. Hong Truong served as an IVU Resident Scholar in Kigali, Rwanda under the mentorship of Dr. Kelvin Moses.
Dr. Truong shares her experience:
“Over the week of Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of traveling to Kigali, Rwanda with Dr. Kelvin Moses and his resident, Dr. Peter Reisz, from Vanderbilt University to assist during a urologic oncology workshop at King Faisal Hospital. While many people may only know Rwanda for the genocide in 1994, the country I visited is full of vitality, eager to move beyond its past, and is on an upward economic and social development trajectory. The country boasts a declining poverty rate, has banned plastic bags, provides free and obligatory education, and offers universal access to basic health insurance with an emphasis on preventative care. Life expectancy in Rwanda has steadily increased, more than doubling over the past 20 years, with the most recent 2018 data showing life expectancy at birth of 67 years. With the overall population living longer, combating the mortality and morbidity of cancer, especially prostate cancer, has become a priority for the Ministry of Health.
“King Faisal Hospital is the largest referral hospital, and one of the major cancer centers, in Rwanda. Throughout four working days, we evaluated patients with prostate and bladder cancers who were previously triaged by the host urology team. Unlike the US, about half of the patients we saw already had advanced diseases. Our operations included diagnostic cystoscopy, transurethral resection of bladder tumors, exploratory laparotomies, and open retropubic radical prostatectomies. Dr. Moses operated with a different Rwandan assisted with the operation and helped the scrub-tech prepare the instruments for the procedure. The operating room was often packed with urology residents and medical students watching the case over our shoulders. On the fifth day, Peter and I gave a grand round talk to the local urology team on prostate cancer. Both attending urologists and residents were engaged, providing lively discussion on operative techniques, management of intraoperative complications, and treatment of post-operative side effects.
“At present, there are only ten urologists in Rwanda to serve a population of approximately 12.6 million people. Despite the implementation of a national screening program for prostate cancer, prostate cancer mortality remains high because many men do not undergo screening until they develop lower urinary tract symptoms. Urologists in the country are still training to diagnose and manage urologic malignancies, and are paving the way for urological care in Rwanda
“I am deeply grateful that IVU, the Society of Urologic Oncology, and my residency program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital made it possible for me to participate in this surgical and cultural exchange program. I treasure the opportunity to learn from the urology team in Rwanda. Their resourcefulness in providing quality surgical care despite limited resources inspire me and challenge me to think about the cost-effective utilization of resources at home. I further envision a career in urologic oncology that expands beyond research and patient care at home. I hope to continue to bring quality urologic care and education to low-resource communities abroad, building friendships and strengthening relationships through the exchange of knowledge.”