A comprehensive initiative called Global HOPE (Haematology-Oncology Paediatric Excellence) has recently been launched in public-private partnerships between American institutions and the governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi.
The $100m Paediatric Haematology-Oncology treatment network has been created in order to build long-term capacity to treat and dramatically improve the prognosis of thousands of children with cancer and blood disorders in southern and eastern Africa.
There are currently only 5 paediatric oncologists in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda combined, which is totally inadequate to deal with the scourge of Childhood Cancer.
“We believe in these countries there are more than 11,000 new cases annually of paediatric cancer and 40,000 new cases of serious, life-threatening blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and haemophilia. Because of these staggering numbers, more healthcare providers with special expertise are urgently needed,” said David G. Poplack, M.D., director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Global HOPE will help build capacity in the region to diagnose and care for children with blood disorders and cancer, offering the potential for transformational change in survivorship for these children.”
In developing countries, including the United States, approximately 80% of Children with Cancer survive; unfortunately this figure dips markedly in developing countries including in sub-Saharan Africa.
The mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 90% across Africa, mainly due to an inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and a lack of physicians and other healthcare workers with specific training to treat children with cancer.
The most common Childhood Cancers are blood-related, including leukaemia and lymphoma.
Clinical, Educational & Research Capabilities
Global HOPE will partner with local governments and ministries of health to build medical capacity to diagnose and treat paediatric blood disorders and cancer in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda. The initiative will also create significant Clinical, Educational and Research capabilities.
Training of local healthcare professionals will be provided by a professional and dedicated team of doctors, nurses and ancillary professionals that will be recruited from across the globe. Treatment of Children with Blood Disorders and Cancer will also begin immediately.
Botswanan president, Ian Khama said:
“This project is building on a solid foundation for paediatric cancer treatment in Botswana that began with oncologists from Texas Children’s Cancer and Haematology Centres.
The Global HOPE programme will bring to Botswana the latest bio-medical technologies and the potential to work with local institutions such as the Botswana Innovation Hub and University of Botswana to quickly increase the survival of children with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders in Botswana and the region.”
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation will be committing $50m over the next 5 years to fund clinical infrastructure and operations as well as the training of healthcare providers. Baylor College of Medicine International Paediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital (BIPAI) will raise an additional $50m for the initiative.
Giovanni Caforio, chief executive officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company said:
“We are eager to get started on this critical initiative to help children with blood disorders and cancer. Working with our partners and drawing on our expertise of building sustainable health systems in underserved countries, we will help make a significant difference in the outcomes for children while creating a blueprint for other countries to follow.
This initiative builds on 18 years of success of the Foundation’s SECURE THE FUTURE program and will offer new hope to families impacted by pediatric blood disorders and cancer.”
The Global HOPE initiative will be modelled on the work of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, BIPAI and the Governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi, which created the largest paediatric HIV treatment network in the world, leveraging existing experience, infrastructure, and public/private partnerships created through the initiative. Since 2003, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and BIPAI have trained 52,000 healthcare professionals and currently provide care for nearly 300,000 children with HIV and their families in sub-Saharan Africa, lowering the mortality rate for these children to 1.2%.
“The success we’ve had in radically changing the course of pediatric HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is due in large part to the tremendous support provided by the country governments, healthcare providers on the ground and donors who have made our work possible,” said Mark W. Kline, M.D., president and founder of BIPAI, physician-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. “We look forward to helping patients and their families by embarking on this unchartered area of cancer care in Africa. Working with our partners, we aim to build a self-sustaining infrastructure that changes the tide of these childhood diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.”
An estimated 4,800 healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses specialising in paediatric haematology-oncology and social workers from the Botswana, Uganda, Malawi and other African countries will be trained via the Global HOPE initiative.
Partners in the Global HOPE program estimate that some 5000 children will receive care provided by the new initiative within the first 5 years.