The Global Haematology-Oncology Paediatric Excellence (HOPE) network has launched a $100m paediatric haematology-oncology treatment initiative that aims to build medical capacity to diagnose and treat paediatric blood disorders and cancer in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda.

The comprehensive initiative is expected 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 through public-private partnerships between American institutions and local governments and ministries of health.

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.

It’s estimated that in the US, 80% of children with cancer survive while in sub-Saharan Africa, the mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 90%.

“This project is building on a solid foundation for paediatric cancer treatment in Botswana that began with paediatric oncologists from Texas Children’s Cancer and Haematology Centres,” said the President of Botswana, Dr Ian Khama.

“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,” continued Dr Khama.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committing $50m over five years to fund the training of healthcare providers as well as clinical infrastructure and operations. Baylor College of Medicine International Paediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital (BIPAI) will raise an additional $50m for the initiative.

“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,” said Chair of the board of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO, Dr Giovanni Caforio.

The Global HOPE initiative will train an estimated 4,800 healthcare professionals from Botswana, Uganda, Malawi and other African countries, including doctors and nurses specialising in paediatric haematology-oncology and social workers. The programme estimates that over 5,000 children will receive care in the first five years.

It is estimated that over 11,000 cases of paediatric cancer and some 40,000 cases of blood disorders are diagnosed each year in Botswana, Malawi, and Uganda combined.

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.

“The success we’ve had in radically changing the course of paediatric 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 President and Founder of BIPAI, Dr Mark W Kline.

“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,” concluded Dr Kline.

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