Chevron has renewed its commitment to the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative with an additional $5 million in funding over five years.
The program, a public-private partnership between Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, the Republic of Angola and Chevron, was launched in 2011 with initial support of $4 million from Chevron.
Representatives from all organizations marked the continued support and success of the program at a ceremony last month in Luanda, Angola. The African nation has one of the highest rates of sickle cell disease in the world. More than 12,000 babies are born with the disease annually, contributing to the high death rate of children under 5 years of age.
Before the launch of the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative, newborns were not screened for the disease. Since it was established in 2011, more than 121,000 babies have been screened. More than 1,700 babies and children are now in care and treatment.
"Sickle Cell disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in Angolan children. This unique partnership is aimed at improving the health of this vulnerable population. We’re proud of its success so far and look forward to continuing to make a difference in the lives of children in Angola,” said Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center, a joint program of Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital, and the pediatric program of the NCI Comprehensive-Designated Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor.
“We are proud to support the hard work and dedication of the Angolan Ministry of Health and BIPAI at Texas Children’s Hospital. Angola’s Sickle Cell Initiative has built a strong foundation and we are confident that the Initiative’s next phase will provide further opportunities to improving the lives of Angolan children,” said Ali Moshiri, president of Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production.
The Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital, or BIPAI, is the foundation on which the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative is based. BIPAI treats more than 100,000 children with HIV/AIDS across a network of clinical centers in Africa and Romania.
Led by Dr. Gladstone Airewele, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor and head of the Global Hematology Program at Texas Children’s Hospital, the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative also includes an education and training component, and this aspect also has seen significant success.
More than 1,700 Angolans have been trained through the program, including local physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, phlebotomists, social workers and research coordinators.
"I envision a world without health inequity – a world where a child living with sickle cell disease in Angola can have the same health expectation as a counterpart in Texas,” said Airewele.