Created in 2000 by Professor Jean Lemerle, the great child cancer specialist, Groupe Franco-Africain d'Oncologie Pédiatrique (GFAOP), working at Institut Gustave Roussy de Villejuif, develops Franco-African cooperation for the treatment of child cancers in French-speaking Africa. Alongside African hospitals which have a large inventory of child tumors, GFAOP sets up the bulk of the material and human resources to treat them. Twelve hospitals are engaged in the system today: Casablanca, Rabat, Algiers, Tunis, Dakar, Yaoundé, Abidjan, Bamako, Ouagadougou, Lomé, Tananarive and, more recently, Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of Congo). Since March 2010, GFAOP is chaired by Professor Harif, director of the Mohammed VI University Hospital in Marrakesh.
One of the Congo's largest cities lacking a specialized unit
The Cliniques Universitaires Hospital of Lubumbashi, one of Congo's most densely populated cities, in the south of the country, lacked a ward specializing in child cancer. GFAOP therefore decided to create a pilot unit and to train the necessary care personnel: a genuine capacity building as specified by the World Health Organization. The GFAOP care protocols for four types of cancer were submitted to the doctors when they visited the Institut Gustave Roussy in 2009 and 2010, and the first drugs have already been sent out, accompanied by training provided in France (doctors and nurses). The first children were soon being cared for.
The Veolia Foundation is financing the equipment required to treat all the children who can be accommodated by the hospital. This means computer hardware, non-biological analytical tools, as well as consumables and means of communication and education for the families. The project also calls for a genuine transfer of skills between French cancerology and the African centers. The aim is to equip the Lubumbashi center sustainably.