ASCP Partners with Legendary Athlete and Philanthropist Dikembe Mutombo to Improve Patient Care in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Dec 15, 2016

Partnership will Bring Pathology Services to Help Stem Rapid Growth of Non-communicable Diseases

The American Society for Clinical Pathology, ASCP, announced today it has forged a partnership with legendary NBA Hall of Famer and philanthropist Dikembe Mutombo to provide patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo access to rapid cancer diagnostics and appropriate care and treatment. Mutombo is meeting with ASCP executives on Friday, December 16 to discuss bringing telepathology to the Congo by building a new histopathology lab and make plans for the lab’s installation. The telepathology lab will be developed for use by Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital that is located in Kinshasa, DRC, and will add to the existing histopathology laboratory capacity in the Congo.

Approximately 650,000 people in Africa develop cancer annually, and about 510,000 cancer deaths occur annually due to limited treatment. More than one third of the cancer deaths in Africa are from cancers that are easily preventable and/or treatable, if detected early. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Dikembe on this very important initiative,” noted ASCP Chief Executive Officer E. Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT(ASCP)CM.  “He is well-known for his prowess on the court as a member of the Houston Rockets, but he is also very well known as one of the most philanthropic athletes of all time, who is passionate about improving health care in the Congo.”

Mutombo is the current chairman and president of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation  which he established in 1997 to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people in his homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the course of his NBA career he played for the Denver Nuggets, the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Nets, the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets.       

This initiative will bring together ASCP, GE Healthcare and Mutombo’s Foundation to build and staff a histopathology lab in the Congo to diagnose cancer earlier, provide appropriate treatment, and establish a sustainable laboratory infrastructure in the country.  ASCP, together with its coalition partners, is committing $155 million over 10 years in diagnostic services, equipment, training and technical support for the multi-site telepathology program.  GE Healthcare is a premier partner and is dedicating $1.2 million dollars in equipment over a five year period.

“By leveraging the technology, skills and experience of ASCP, GE and Dikembe’s foundation, healthcare workers in the Congo will have access to quality real-time cancer diagnostics, allowing them to detect cancers and subsequently treat patients more quickly,” added Holladay.

The laboratory will be built as a part of ASCP’s ongoing initiative, Partners for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa, that provides patients in resource limited areas of Africa with access to rapid cancer diagnostics and appropriate care and treatment.

"Pathology is a major gap in the Congo, which means that hundreds of Congolese die each year from preventable forms of cancer, including cervical, breast and liver cancer," commented Mutombo. "This new lab, equipment and expertise will allow us to take our cancer patient care in-country to the next level. ASCP is giving the gift of life."

Partners for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa, a coalition announced in 2015 by the White House, is led by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the world's largest professional organization for pathologists and laboratory professionals. The coalition has developed an economical, scalable, and secure telepathology approach to help millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti who previously had no access to cancer diagnostics, or care and treatment. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the next five years, the annual number of new cases is predicted to increase to 1 million.

"This is a great example of collaboration between our Society, an industry partner and a philanthropic foundation to improve health care in the Congo," said ASCP President William E. Schreiber, MD, FASCP. "Through this initiative, thousands of patients will benefit from access to earlier detection and treatment of their cancers."

ASCP, the world’s largest professional membership organization for pathologists and laboratory professionals, is leading a cross-sector coalition of industry, non-profits, and professional societies that have committed $155 million of infrastructure, funding, and in-kind resources to improve pathology services in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) in support of the goals of the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD).