Texas Children’s part of Africa initiative

The first comprehensive pediatric hematology-oncology initiative has been launched in Africa through public-private partnerships with the governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi.

Participants in the $100 million initiative include Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers (TXCH), Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital and Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

Joining in the announcement were President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama of the Republic of Botswana and Minister Dorcas Makgato of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The initiative, Global HOPE (Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence), will 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.

In the U.S., 80 percent of children with cancer survive. In sub-Saharan Africa, the overwhelming majority of pediatric patients do not survive. The mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 90 percent, meaning that thousands of children die from cancer across Africa each year.

The problem is in large part due to an inadequate 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.

Global HOPE will partner with local governments and ministries of health to build medical capacity to diagnose and treat the disorders.

“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 Dr. David G. Poplack, director of TXCH and professor of pediatric oncology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Poplack said Global HOPE will offer “the potential for transformational change in survivorship for these children.”