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Global Health Trust Fund

Help Queen’s Catalyze Our Global Health Research Impact

If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that there are immense disparities in healthcare accessibility and quality of care in countries and regions worldwide. Queen’s University researchers have been working with partners in low- and middle-income countries to shine a light on these disparities, even pre-pandemic.

A diverse team of researchers and physicians based at Queen’s and institutions in Sri Lanka have teamed up to develop the first database of cancer patients in Sri Lanka – a project that will make important contributions to cancer care in the South Asian country. This is one example of the kind of project that can be supported by the Global Health Trust Fund.

Leading the Canadian collaboration for the Sri Lankan Cancer Registry project is Don Thiwanka Wijeratne, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Queen’s, who was born and raised in Sri Lanka. Dr. Wijeratne, while not an oncologist, has a strong understanding of the Sri Lankan health-care system. Paired with a motivation to address disparities in cancer care in his home country, he was perfectly positioned to drive this change.

The full team for the project includes Chris Booth, Professor of Oncology at Queen’s and Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care, Sanjeewa Seneviratne, Consultant Surgeon at the University of Colombo and Sanjeeva Gunasekara, Pediatric Oncologist at the National Cancer Institute in Sri Lanka.

“In Sri Lanka, cancer care has not been well-documented,” says Dr. Wijeratne. “We first wanted to address the why question – why is there disparity in cancer care, and what social and geographic demographics contribute to that disparity – and then address the how, how do we make actionable change?”

The team has been especially concerned with the stage of cancer diagnosis, with data showing late presentation of disease is common in Sri Lanka. The need for a national screening program is critical, says Dr. Wijeratne, as well as improvements to palliative care – in particular, access to narcotics, including morphine.

Initiated in 2017, the project is now part of the newly formed Queen’s Global Oncology Program, which is one of the first programs of its kind in Canada. The program seeks to advance research, medical education, and policy in cancer care in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia.

Support research that has an impact across the globe when you give to the Global Health Trust Fund.