BMSF Awards $10 Million for Rural Cancer Initiative

BMSF Awards $10 Million for Rural Cancer Initiative

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has announced a $10 million grant to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center to expand a program that provides quality cancer care for rural and underserved populations in the United States and Africa.

Part of BMSF's commitment to the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative, the grant will underwrite efforts by the center's Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) to improve cancer outcomes by bringing top-quality care to cancer patients in rural and underserved areas and boost care capacity at community hospitals and health centers by partnering local clinicians with National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and other academic medical centers.

Although cervical cancer is largely preventable when screening guidelines and follow-up monitoring are pursued, recent studies have shown that racial disparities in death rates from cervical cancer in the U.S. are significantly wider than estimated, with African American women dying from cervical cancer at twice the rate of white women. And globally, cancer disparities also persist. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 22.5 out of 100,000 people die from cervical cancer in contrast to only 15 out of 100,000 in North America, while 20.9 out of 100,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa die from prostate cancer, compared to 9.8 out of 100,000 in North America.

"Project ECHO is a proven approach to breaking down barriers to high-quality specialty care for medically underserved populations facing a number of serious diseases," said BMSF president John Damonti. "This partnership will support the pilot application and spread of ECHO's tele-mentoring and collaborative model now to cancer. ECHO’s potential to strengthen and heal gaps in systems of care for the most vulnerable patients and expand the idea of a cancer care team across space and healthcare organizations is enormous."