Botswana will be a centert for southern and east Africa for hematology-oncology treatment, as it will get a new $100 million worth pediatric centre.
The innitiative is called Global HOPE (Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence) and is financed by the private-public deals of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) Foundation, Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers adn Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS initiative, with governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi.
The need for such a center in Africa is of huge importance. To compare, in the United States, 80 percent of children with cancer survive, while in sub-Saharan Africa, about 90% of pediatric patients do not survive, according to data provided by the BMS.
As the drugmaker involved in this facility says, the huge mortality rate is heavily due to lack of adequate healthcare infrastructure and a significant lack of expert physicians and other healthcare workers trained to treat children with cancer. The most common types of childhood cancers are blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, BMS says.
Global HOPE will partner with local Governments and Ministries of Health to build medical capacity to diagnose and treat pediatric blood disorders and cancer in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda. The initiative will also create significant clinical, educational and research capabilities. Doctors, nurses and ancillary professionals will be recruited from around the world to provide training to local healthcare professionals and to begin treating children with blood disorders and cancer immediately.
“This project is building on a solid foundation for pediatric cancer treatment in Botswana that began with pediatric oncologists from Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers,” said His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama of the Republic of Botswana. “The Global HOPE program 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.”
BMS covers $50 million
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committing $50 million over five years to fund the training of healthcare providers as well as clinical infrastructure and operations. BIPAI will raise an additional $50 million for the initiative.
The Global HOPE initiative will train an estimated 4,800 healthcare professionals from Botswana, Uganda, Malawi and other African countries, including doctors and nurses specializing in pediatric hematology-oncology and social workers. The program estimates that over 5,000 children will receive care in the first five years.
Only 5 pediatric oncologists in 3 African countries
“With only five pediatric oncologists currently in the countries of Botswana, Malawi and Uganda combined, there are simply not enough expert doctors to treat all the children diagnosed with blood disorders and cancer. We believe in these countries there are more than 11,000 new cases annually of pediatric cancer and 40,000 new cases of serious, life-threatening blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and hemophilia. 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.”