The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers, and Baylor College of Medicine have announced the launch of a $100 million initiative to create a pediatric hematology-oncology treatment network in East and sub-Saharan Africa.
The Global HOPE (Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence) initiative will partner with local governments to build the medical capacity needed to diagnose and treat pediatric blood disorders and cancer in Botswana, Malawi, and Uganda. To that end, doctors, nurses, and other professionals will be recruited from around the world to train about forty-eight hundred local healthcare providers in the treatment of children with blood disorders and cancer. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has pledged $50 million over five years to fund the training of healthcare providers, while the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children's Hospital (BIPAI) plans to raise another $50 million to fund the initiative's future operating costs.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the mortality rate for children with cancer is estimated to be as high as 90 percent, due in large part to inadequate healthcare infrastructure and lack of pediatric oncologists and other healthcare workers. Global HOPE will be modeled on the pediatric HIV treatment network the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, BIPAI, and local governments created in 2003, which has trained fifty-two thousand healthcare professionals and reduced the mortality rate for children with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa to 1.2 percent.
"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," said David Poplack, director of Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers. "We believe that in these countries there are more than eleven thousand new cases annually of pediatric cancer and forty thousand new cases of serious, life-threatening blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and hemophilia. Because of these staggering numbers, more healthcare providers are urgently needed."