ONS donated a library of oncology nursing publications to healthcare providers from Ethiopia who traveled to City of Hope (COH) in Duarte, CA, in February 2023 for a three-week radiation training program.

Pictured from left to right: Alemayehu (Alex) Debbo Telilamedical, Netsanet Bogale, Lesley Taylor, and Bedilu Deribe
Pictured from left to right: Alemayehu (Alex) Debbo Telilamedical, Netsanet Bogale, Lesley Taylor, and Bedilu Deribe

Long-time ONS member Betty Ferrell, PhD, RN, CHPN, FAAN, FPCN, director of nursing research at COH, worked with ONS Immediate Past President Jeannine M. Brant, PhD, APRN-CNS, AOCN®, FAAN, to coordinate ONS’s donations.

“These resources are highly valued, as there are few resources available in Ethiopia. They will be shared widely to develop training and procedures for care,” Ferrell said.

ONS donated copies of Telephone Triage for Oncology Nurses, A Guide to Oncology Symptom Management, Cancer Basics, and Manual for Radiation Oncology Nursing Practice and Education, among others. ONS also granted access to Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing and Oncology Nursing Forum articles, including features and updates on the latest clinical practice and symptom management guidelines.

Netsanet Bogale, assistant professor of clinical oncology and head of the Hospital Cancer Treatment Center, Bedilu Deribe, head of the School of Nursing, and Alemayehu (Alex) Debbo Telila, medical physicist, traveled more than 9,000 miles from the Hawassa University Comprehensive Specialized Referral Hospital—Cancer Treatment (HUCSRH-CTC) in Ethiopia to participate in the training. It involved one week of technical teaching on radiation therapy and two weeks of clinical instruction on use of radiation in the treatment of patients with cancer.

In a presentation after returning home, they said, “We lack words to adequately convey our gratitude and appreciation. Your generosity and humility are beyond words.”

HUCSRH-CTC launched its radiation program in August 2023. The center also provides diagnostic and imaging services, chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, surgical pathology, immunohistochemical staining, surgery, and palliative care. It is the only regional comprehensive cancer center in Ethiopia and serves about 25 million people.

Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa, but it has only three radiation machines for 114 million people, according to Lesley Taylor, MD, a breast surgeon at COH. Taylor has been collaborating with colleagues at HUCSRH-CTC for the past decade to build their capacity to provide advanced breast cancer care by educating pathologists, oncologists, surgeons, and nurses. 

In her initial COH project proposal, Taylor reported that the average age for a breast cancer diagnosis in Ethiopia is 35–40 years old and about two-thirds of breast cancers are estrogen receptor–positive, which is potentially curable with mastectomy and endocrine therapy if it’s detected early.

The COH team has an ongoing collaboration with the Ethiopia team in which Taylor and Ferrell support training for medical and nursing professionals and nursing students with a major focus on breast cancer detection and treatment.   

The project is part of a larger COH Oncology Nurse Navigators Network program to build capacity in Ethiopian health care and cancer care, which are historically underfunded. Breast cancer is often diagnosed at late stages because of stigmas, lack of primary care provider knowledge, and a fragmented healthcare system, Taylor explained. The COH program builds on previous Ethiopian provider training using existing educational materials, skills labs, and methodology.