Health Challenges and Systems

Infectious and Non-Communicable Diseases

Health is the backbone of a nation. Sub-Saharan Africa bears a disproportionate burden of ill-health, and health remains largely under-funded by many governments in the region. In 2010, HIV/AIDS claimed up to 1.2 million lives in sub-Saharan Africa and a further 22.9 million people, including 2.3 million children, were living with HIV/AIDS. The region is also now increasingly threatened by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive respiratory disease.



Current Project


Triple Negative Breast Cancer in Kenya (TNBC)

Program: Health Challenges and Systems

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive form of breast carcinoma with a poor prognosis. This is a type of cancer that test negative to the estrogen, progesterone and Her2 receptors. Because of that, these cancers do not respond to the conventional receptor targeted treatments.

To date in Kenya, there has been little progress in the identification and treatment of breast cancer sub-types, and TNBC in particular, since most health care facilities in the region lack technical resources and expertise for basic Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and breast cancer sub-classification.  Thus, treatment of breast cancer is often based on clinical staging and suboptimal histology reports. Because of that, there is dire need for validated, receptor-based sub-classification of breast cancers in Kenyan women, and specifically the identification of high risk TNBC.

The study intends to determine the prevalence of TNBC and study the associated tumor clinico-pathologic characteristics and patient socio-demographics amongst three distinct ethnic groups (Bantu, Nilotes & Cushites) in Kenya. The short term impact of the research is the characterization of all breast cancer subtypes, with a special focus on TNBC, in the Kenyan population and to contribute to capacity-building and technical expertise for the diagnosis and management of breast cancer in the country.



  • Aga-Khan University Hospital Nairobi (AKUHN)


Project Period

  • March 2012 to February 2014

Project Funders

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