“Just a few years ago we had no system or financing mechanism to diagnose and treat AIDS in Africa. People said it was too expensive or too complicated,” said Paul Farmer, chair of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH). “But today nearly 7 million people in developing countries are receiving treatment for HIV. We can do the same with cancer.”

Representatives from Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and PIH, and the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation and Ministry of Health of the Republic of Rwanda will be on hand at today’s official opening of the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which will serve as the first national cancer referral facility in rural Rwanda.

Former President Bill Clinton, who helped bring together this partnership through his Clinton Global Initiative, will inaugurate the center today, on the same site at which he laid the cornerstone for Butaro Hospital in 2008.

The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, located within Butaro Hospital in northern rural Rwanda, will provide a full spectrum of cancer care including screening, diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery, patient follow-up, and palliative care. It will also serve as the first facility to implement standardized cancer training and protocols that align with Rwanda’s new national guidelines.

Farmer is the Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.