Background: Cancer is a global problem with a disproportionate burden in the developing world. The lack of infrastructure, skilled professionals and access to effective cancer treatments has led to a growing geographical disparity in cancer control. There have been concerted efforts to make cancer a priority agenda area in many developing countries’ health sectors through collaborations with international partners. However, it is largely unknown whether this priority setting is congruent with the perspective of front-line oncology providers.
Aim: To examine cancer knowledge and perceptions among oncology physicians at a hospital in Mali, within the context of Mali’s national cancer control policies.
Methods: A qualitative questionnaire was distributed among physicians that were involved in the care of cancer patients at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire du Point-G in Bamako Mali. Demographic data and clinical experience in oncology was also recorded. Descriptive statistics was used to describe the findings.
Results: Out of 22 surveys distributed, 16 were completed and returned (72%). Average age of respondents was 44 (range 29-61) with average length of clinical experience of 15 years. Tobacco (63%) was identified as the most preventable cause of cancer, followed by infectious diseases. 100% agree or strongly agree that cultural factors impedes diagnosis and treatment of cancer. 62.5% disagree or strongly disagree that the current health financing system allows access to cancer care. A lack of radiotherapy machines, trained oncology personnel, lack of essential medications and palliative care were seen as significant barriers to treating cancer patients. 70% of respondents identified establishing a cancer registry as an important national priority.
Conclusions: Cancer remains a significant priority among oncology physicians in Mali, though differing levels of awareness, political factors and infrastructure deficiencies act as barriers for improved cancer control. Soliciting of perspectives from front-line providers can guide international partnerships and agenda setting in the future.