The President of the Republic of Botswana, Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama as well as the minister of health helped unveil a $100 million initiative to create an innovative pediatric hematology-oncology treatment network in southern and east Africa.

The comprehensive initiative called Global HOPE (Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence) will build long-term capacity to treat and dramatically improve the prognosis of thousands of children in southern and eastern Africa with cancer and blood disorders.

80 percent of children in the United States with cancer survive, whereas in sub-Saharan Africa the 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 most common types of childhood cancers are cancers of the blood, including leukemia and lymphoma.

This 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.

Global HOPE is partnering with local Governments and Ministries of Health to build the needed medical capacity to diagnose and treat pediatric blood disorders and cancer in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda.

This initiative will create significant clinical, educational and research capabilities and doctors, nurses and ancillary professionals will be recruited from around the world to provide training for local healthcare professionals and to treat children suffering blood disorders and cancer immediately.

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 and BIPAI will raise an additional $50 million for the initiative.

Giovanni Caforio, M.D., chairman of the board of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and chief executive officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company said, “This initiative builds on 18 years of success of the Foundation’s SECURE THE FUTURE® program and will offer new hope to families impacted by pediatric blood disorders and cancer.”

Global HOPE will train an estimated 4,800 healthcare professionals from Botswana, Uganda, Malawi and other African countries. This includes doctors and nurses specialising in pediatric hematology-oncology and social workers, allowing the program to estimate that over 5,000 children will receive care in the first five years.

The initiative will be modelled on the work of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, BIPAI and the Governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi. This had created the largest pediatric HIV treatment network in the world by using existing experience, infrastructure, and public/private partnerships created through the initiative.
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and BIPAI have trained 52,000 healthcare professionals and provide care for almost 300,000 children with HIV and their families in sub-Saharan Africa, thus lowering the mortality rate for these children to 1.2% since 2003.