Improving cancer care in Botswana

November 4, 2019

Scholar from Botswana visits Rutgers School of Nursing in Newark.

School of Nursing explores collaboration to advance oncology nursing in Botswana

Rutgers School of Nursing recently hosted a visit to its Newark campus from Norman Carl Swart (PhD, APRNc), a lecturer on the faculty at the University of Botswana School of Nursing. Speaking to the Rutgers nursing faculty, Swart presented “Cancer Nursing in a Resource-Limited, Middle-Income Country: The Case of Botswana.”  

Swart had traveled to Newark from Baltimore, MD, where he completed a Fogarty International Fellowship in bioethics at Johns Hopkins University.  

Health care leaders in Botswana are hoping that they will have successes with screening, treatment and prevention of cancer, similar to what the nation has seen in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, explained Suzanne Willard (PhD, APNc, FAAN), clinical professor and associate dean for Global Health at Rutgers School of Nursing.

“Cancer is about where HIV/AIDS was 20 years ago. It’s on the upward slope, and results in high rates of mortality,” she said.  

Rutgers-Botswana partnerships

Willard and colleagues at Rutgers School of Nursing’s Center for Global Health organized Swart’s visit to Newark. They first met him this past August in Botswana during a working tour and two-day cancer prevention and care workshop presented by Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, the University of Botswana, and Rutgers Global Health Institute.  

Willard and colleagues were among Rutgers delegates participating in the visit along with Brian Strom, chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences; Christopher Molloy, chancellor, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and Richard Marlink, director, Rutgers Global Health Institute. The visit aimed to further the work of the Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health.

Rutgers School of Nursing has a deep history of global health outreach. For example, in Botswana, the school’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center (FXBC) played a leading role in stemming the spread of HIV through providing technical assistance to the Botswana government and the Centers for Disease Control. FXBC’s work included developing programs and training materials focused on preventing mother-to-child transmission. 

Building care capacity through advanced nursing education

At the University of Botswana, Swart is heading the establishment of a new advanced practice nursing master’s program in oncology and palliative care, expected in launch in fall 2020. In developing the new MSN program, he’s drawing on training in these nursing specialties that he received at Case Western University in Cleveland, OH.

“We are desperately in need of this new MSN program,” Swart said. “In our entire nation, we have only seven, or at most 10, advanced practice nurses specializing in oncology and palliative care.” 

Swart noted that the new MSN program presents a perfect opportunity for Rutgers School of Nursing faculty to collaborate with their counterparts in Botswana through joint research projects, visiting scholar and student exchanges, and sharing innovative teaching methods and strategies for course design.  

Following his lecture to the nursing faculty, Swart participated in small-group brainstorming sessions with key leaders from the School of Nursing, Rutgers Foundation, Rutgers Global Health Institute, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to discuss next steps to advance collaborative efforts to improve cancer care in Botswana. 

PICTURED ABOVE (L-R): Jeffrey Kwong, professor, Division of Advanced Practice Nursing; Linda Flynn, professor and interim dean; Norman Carl Swart, lecturer, University of Botswana School of Nursing; and Suzanne Willard, clinical professor and associate dean for Global Health, during Swart’s visit to Rutgers School of Nursing in Newark, NJ.