ICYIZERE (Hope) Initiative

An interactive breast cancer patients’ education toolkit.


Cancer is the second leading global cause of death, with 9.6 million fatalities, mainly in low and middle-income countries. Predictions estimate an increase from 18.1 million cases in 2018 to 21.4 million by 2030. In Rwanda, 10,704 cases and 7,662 deaths  from cancer were reported in 2018, with breast cancer as the second most common type, expected to rise from 1131 cases in 2018 to 2420 by 2040. Breast cancer management and diagnosis in Rwanda is still challenging due to several reasons. Majority of breast cancer patients present with advanced and metastatic disease while 14% of them get lost on follow-up along treatment course. In Rwanda, most breast cancer patients (88.6%) seek care in 12 months after symptom onset, with 62% diagnosed at stage 3, typically at the age of 49.7. Delayed care results from cultural myths, low awareness, and financial constraints. 

Literatures shows that myths, stigma, poverty, low level of education and visiting traditional healers are potent barriers to seeking care thus associated with delayed breast cancer care presentation in Rwanda. Here are common myths around breast cancer in Rwanda: If one doesn’t have a family history of breast cancer, they won’t get it, If one maintains healthy weight, exercises regularly, eats healthy, and limits alcohol, they don’t have to worry about breast cancer, wearing a bra can cause breast cancer, using an underarm antiperspirant can cause breast cancer, carrying one’s cell phone in the bra can cause breast cancer, early-stage breast cancer rarely recurs and many more other myths. This nececitates patient education programs and extensive community awareness programmes to empower Rwandans on early warning signs and when to seek healthcare provider. 

ICYIZERE which translates HOPE, is a Rwandan project for Rwandans by Rwandans. It aims to Build a community where breast cancer carries no social stigma, and where patients are empowered to make decisions based on both evidence-based information and alignment with their individual cultural values, desires, and objectives. ICYIZERE initiative will empower 10,000 Rwandan breast cancer patients and caregivers in 24 months through developing an interactive patient education toolkit, TV-shows, and radio talks. The toolkit will be available both in print and as an electronic version (e-toolkit), ensuring accessibility to a broad audience. It will be distributed within cancer care settings and remain available for free printouts even after the project’s conclusion. This will undoubtedly improve breast cancer patients’ quality of life in Rwanda.

OAZIS Health strives for a healthier world with equitable access to health information and health services to the most in need. With ICYIZERE, we are working to bring essential breast cancer infromation to patients in an easy understandable fashion without medical jargons. Should you like to work with us on healthcare providers or patients empowerment programs and service delivery? drop us a line, we are just a click a way 🙂

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